Michael discusses his friendship with Bacon, lunch with Lucian Freud, and unforgettable encounters with Sonia Delaunay and more, in a podcast recorded for Thames & Hudson.
Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma (1997; revised edition 2008)
Alberto Giacometti in Paris (2023)
Francis Bacon In Your Blood (2015)
The Existential Englishman (2018)
Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait (2008; revised edition 2021)
Artists’ Lives (2023)
Modern Art In Britain (1964)
Imagination’s Chamber: Artists and Their Studios (1983)
In Giacometti’s Studio (2010)
Art Plural: Voices of Contemporary Art (2014)
The Making of Modern Art (2021)
Auerbach/Bevan: What Is a Head? (2022)
Francis Bacon: A Self-Portrait in Words: Statements, Letters and Studio Notes. Edited and Introduced by Michael Peppiatt (2023)
Interviews with Artists [1966-2012] (2010; new edition 2023?)
‘Only Too Much Is Enough’: Francis Bacon in his Own Words (2022)
Bacon/Giacometti: A Dialogue (2021)
Selected Exhibition Catalogues
Raymond Mason (1982)
The School of London (1987)
L’Ecole de Londres: De Bacon à Bevan (1998)
Zoran Music (2001)
Alberto Giacometti in Post-War Paris (2001)
Aristide Maillol (2002)
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gaston Chaissac, Jean Dubuffet, Joaquin Torres-Garcia (2003)
Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit [ed. with Jill Lloyd] (2003)
Francis Bacon and the Tradition of Art (2003)
Sean Scully (2004)
Francis Bacon: The Sacred and Profane (2004)
Antonio Tàpies (2005)
Francis Bacon in the 1950s (2006)
Van Gogh and Expressionism [ed. with Jill Lloyd] (2007)
Peter Blake (2009)
In Giacometti’s Studio (2010)
Dado: Venice Biennale (2010)
Giacometti: An Intimate Portrait (2010)
Nicolas de Staël (2013)
Avigdor Arikha (2020)
Francis Bacon: Man and Beast (2022)
Francis Bacon: l’art de l’impossible [trans. with Michel Leiris] (1976)
Selected Books in French:
Entretiens avec Francis Bacon, L’Echoppe, Paris, 1998
Francis Bacon à l’atelier, L’Echoppe, Paris,1999
Espace et Lumière (Sean Scully et Richard Meier), L’Echoppe, Paris, 1999
Zoran Music, Entretiens 1988-1998, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2000
L’Ecole de Londres, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2002
Alberto Giacometti, Oeuvres de la maturité, Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne, 2002
Dans l’atelier de Giacometti, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2002
Van Gogh, ombres et lumières, Centre national de documentation pédagogique, Paris, 2002
Francis Bacon: Anatomie d’une énigme, Flammarion (Grandes biographies), Paris, 2003
Rencontre avec Pierre Soulages, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2003
Le regard de Bacon, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2003
Francis Bacon: le sacré et le profane, Musée Maillol, Paris, 2004
Sean Scully, Galerie Lelong, Paris, 2004
L’amitié Leiris Bacon: Une étrange fascination, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2006
L’Ecole de Londres, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2006
Les Dilemmes de Jean Dubuffet, Paris, L’Echoppe. Paris, 2006
Peter Blake, Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris, 2009
Lucian Freud, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2010
Jean Dubuffet/James Fitzsimmons: Correspondance 1956-64, 2011
Un après-midi chez Henry Moore, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2013
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rencontres, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2014
Claes Oldenburg, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2017
David Hockney, Souvenirs, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2017
Bacon/Giacometti : Une Rencontre à Londres, L’Echoppe, Paris, 2019
Bacon et Giacometti en parallèle, L’Echoppe, 2019
Francis Bacon, Flammarion (Grandes Biographies), Paris, nouvelle édition, 2019
Conversations avec Adrian Ghenie, L’Echoppe, 2021
Selected Exhibition Catalogues in French:
Denise Esteban: entre ciel et mer, Maison de la Culture, Bourges, 1974
Dado: noir sur blanc, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, 1975
Pierre Soulages: Galerie Jade, Colmar, 1991
Louis le Brocquy: Images de Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, 1979
Zoran Music: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1995
Lucian Freud: L’Oeuvre Gravé, Galerie Berggruen, Paris, 1990
Raymond Mason, Musée Maillol, Paris, 2000
L’Ecole de Londres, Musée Maillol, Paris, 1998
Aristide Maillol, introduction du catalogue suivie d’un entretien avec Dina Vierny, IVAM, Valencia, 2002
Alberto Giacometti dans le Paris d’après-guerre, Fondation de l’Hermitage, Lausanne, 2002.
Zoran Music, préface et entretiens, Galerie Krugier-Ditesheim, Genève, 2002
Christian Schad, Musée Maillol, Paris, 2002
Francis Bacon: Le sacré et le profane, Musée Maillol, Paris, 2003
Le feu sous la cendre, Galerie Jan Krugier, Genève, 2003
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gaston Chaissac, Jean Dubuffet, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Galerie Navarra, Paris, 2003
Sean Scully, Galerie Lelong, Paris, 2004
Dado : Les Elégies Zorzi, Palazzo Zorzi, Biennale de Venise, Venise, 2009
Les Giacometti: Giovanni, Alberto, Diego, Fondation pour l’écrit, Genève, 2009
Marc Desgrandschamps, Galerie Lelong, Paris, 2016
Francis Bacon et Shakespeare, ‘Bacon en toutes lettres’, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019
Faces in the Crowd: Portraits of Artists and Writers
Bacon/Picasso (An Exhibition)
The Francis Bacon: Man and Beast exhibition has just ended its run at The Royal Academy. Reception to the show has been everything one could have hope for and more. We have collected below some reviews of the show:
Wall Street Journal – The Art Newspaper – Irish Times – The FT – The Guardian – Artlyst – FAD Magazine – TimeOut – The Week – The Arts Desk – AnOther Magazine – TheUpcoming – ArtReview – HyperAllergic – The New Statesman
There is an excellent video available on the RA’s exhibition page which we would suggest checking out:
Update: Michael’s interview segment on the Evening Standard podcast The Leader is now available for listening (skip to 01:38):
Very much looking forward to the next project!
Michael has brought together the most notable remarks that Francis Bacon made to him during their thirty year long friendship.
The sayings assembled for the first time in Only Too Much is Enough form a brilliant accompaniment to Bacon’s paintings, conveying as they do not only a sceptical and sometimes disquieting outlook on human relationships, but also keen insights into the creative process.
For more details and to order a copy, visit here:
Michael is the guest curator of the Royal Academy of Arts’ ‘Francis Bacon: Man and Beast’, the first exhibition to chart the development of Bacon’s work through the lens of his fascination with animals and its impact on his treatment of the human figure. It will also be the first time all of Bacon’s ‘bullfight’ paintings have been exhibited together and the first time Bacon’s final painting Study of a Bull has gone on show in the UK.
In the lead essay to the exhibition catalogue, Michael defines the main concept underlying this challenging new exhibition:
“What Bacon learnt about existence as a child came above all from what he learnt about animals: how they fought, how they mated, how they died.”
For full details and to order tickets, visit the Royal Academy page here.
Eris Press have released ‘Dialogue’ for the first time in its original version. Michael wrote the ‘Bacon/Giacometti’ Dialogue while he was co-curating an exhibition of the same title at the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland. It has since been published in French by L’Echoppe in Paris and put on as a play by Christie’s in London.
For more details and to order a signed copy, visit their site here, or read on for an extract:
GIACOMETTI Is it true, Francis, that when you raise your glass, you always say, “Champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends”?
BACON That’s just an old Edwardian toast people used to use. But since I spend so much of my life drifting from bar to bar and person to person, I do say it from time to time. It seems to sum up the situation so clearly. And after all, Alberto, what else is there to do in life but try to sum the situation up clearly?
GIACOMETTI Yes, of course. That’s the only point of anything, and certainly the only point of art, no? I think the aim is to create a kind of residue of reality, not to reproduce reality as such, which is impossible, but to create a reality of equal intensity—its essence, if you like. It’s also a way of trying to give existence some form of permanence. Of course you never achieve that. However much you try, you always fail, time after time. And you’re bound to fail, because that intensity is always out of your reach. You might think, every now and then, that you’ve got a little closer, so you keep on trying. And here’s the contradiction: nothing would be worse than succeeding, because if you did there’d be nothing left to do!
Bacon tops up Giacometti’s glass.
GIACOMETTI I love being in London. I don’t know why I don’t come over more often, and not just to hang a big show like the one at the Tate or to go and look at those fantastic early Egyptian paintings you have at the British Museum. I am in awe of them because they are so life-like and real. And London is so completely different from Paris. Everything looks different, even the trees in the parks. And the people! They seem to inhabit a different kind of space as they queue so calmly for the bus or make their way along the street. And then these secret little bars and clubs you’ve taken me to! It’s like a different planet.
BACON It’s terribly nice of you to say that, Alberto, but I always think Paris is so much more beautiful and stimulating than London. I mean, it often feels terribly provincial and dreary here, and there’s really not much happening in the arts. Not much happening in anything, come to that. I remember I always used to long to see the latest issues of Cahiers d’Art and those kinds of magazines simply to find out what was happening in Paris. What you were doing, what Picasso was doing…
GIACOMETTI Well, there’s your own work, Francis, which I find very exciting and inventive. I went to your gallery yesterday to see the new portraits you’ve done of your friends, and I have to say that, next to your paintings, which radiate vitality, my things at the Tate will look as though they’d been done by an old spinster!
BACON Alberto, nothing could give me greater pleasure than to hear you—who I consider to be the greatest living artist—say that about my work. I’m hugely, deeply touched. I’ve admired everything you do and your whole attitude towards life and art from the beginning. It’s not just what you’ve created, but the way you live. I’ve always been struck by those photos of you in your studio with all its marvellous mess strewn over the floor. I live in that way too, because I find having all that chaos around you stimulates ideas as you work. I’ve got so many photos and things piled up under foot that I think of it as my “compost heap”, and every time I walk up to the canvas I kick new images up and they act like triggers for ideas while I’m painting. And all the painters I see regularly in London, like Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach, look up to you as the great figurative artist of our times. You’ve been a model for us all, particularly now that the art world is only interested in abstract art.
GIACOMETTI Me? A model? I’m no model!
BACON Do you remember, before Isabel introduced us, I saw you sitting at the Flore in Saint-Germain, it must have been in the early Fifties, and I felt I had to come over and say that for me you were the greatest living sculptor and draughtsman of our times.
GIACOMETTI And what did I say?
BACON “What terrible times we must be living in!”
Bacon signals for another bottle of Krug, while Giacometti lights yet another cigarette.
Thames and Hudson have published a new, revised edition of Michael’s collection of essays: ‘Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait’.
Below you will find an exclusive preview of his Preface to the Revised Edition:
‘I write in order to have written,’ the Spanish poet and noted wit, Jaime Gil de Biedma, said once in an interview. I think that provides as fundamental and irreducible a definition of the need to write as one could find, and I have thought about it often, because if one spends one’s life in a single, obsessive quest one constantly seeks to explain, if only to oneself, the impulse underlying it. I also enjoy maxims, aphorisms, bons mots in themselves – as indeed did Francis Bacon, who in conversation was constantly searching for the killer phrase, the last word, on art and life.
If I were asked to define my main and most absorbing activity, however, I would formulate the answer differently and say: ‘I write in order to rewrite.’ That makes for a less lapidary statement, but certainly for me and I suspect for many writers it is truer and more to the point. The first draft of whatever one writes is usually the most demanding and debilitating part of the process. It usually constitutes the darkest moments of a writing life when one despairs of whatever talent one thought one might have, and wonders whether one will ever write anything worth reading again. Then, if that draft survives for a day or two, one might overcome despair and go back to it, move it around, cut and paste it, and eventually decide that it is not quite as vacuous and clumsy as it first seemed: one or two passages could be worked on, possibly even improved. From the original swamp of words, a vague shape begins to emerge. Then, at last, an apposite phrase arises, bringing a paragraph into perspective, which in turn gives hope to the whole undertaking. The rewriting – the real writing and the real pleasure of writing – begins.
Not only does the process of rewriting go on, it never stops. Even when a book has been scrupulously edited by the author and numerous other hands, the obsessive writer will continue to see things that could be improved on long after publication. Accordingly, when I was asked to come up with a revised, updated version of ‘Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait’, I grasped the invitation with both hands. In the dozen years since the original edition came out, much has changed. Bacon scholarship has grown vertiginously, and in between times the author has written new, arguably better texts on various aspects of the artist. Here was the opportunity not only to improve yet again on texts long enshrined but also to add more recent reflections.
In this brave, new venture, we have updated and emended all the essays while adding four more recent texts as well as short commentaries on five individual paintings. Of the former, ‘Bacon and Picasso’ came out of a review of an exhibition at the Musée Picasso, and ‘Bacon and Shakespeare’ was written for the catalogue of ‘Francis Bacon en toutes lettres’ (‘Francis Bacon: Books and Painting’), the exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2019-20 that explored the literary influences on Bacon’s imagination. ‘Francis Bacon in Paris’ is a more biographical piece based on my memories of the artist’s frequent stays in the city, while ‘Reflections on Francis Bacon’s Late Work’ began life as an analysis of a late triptych before broadening out to address Bacon’s late period as a whole.
Even the three interviews with Bacon have been updated (as I explain in the introductory note to the first interview), since I listened to them all again and reinstated several remarks that I deemed inconsequential at the time of their first publication. It is now almost sixty years since that first interview took place, and it seems most likely that this revised version of my essays on Bacon will be the definitive one. Yet the moment I say that, a cherished image swims into view: Pierre Bonnard sneaking back into a museum and surreptitiously touching up a painting of his that had been hanging on the wall for years…
- New Photographs of Michael by Darren Filkins
- Podcast for Thames & Hudson
- New Photographs of Michael by Harry Borden
- Updated Selected Works
- PHOTOS FROM FRANCIS BACON: MAN AND BEAST
- Reviews from Francis Bacon: Man and Beast
- Only Too Much Is Enough: Francis Bacon in His Own Words
- ‘Francis Bacon: Man and Beast’ 29 January – 17 April 2022
- Bacon/Giacometti: A Dialogue
- Francis Bacon: Studies for a Portrait – Revised Edition
- Auerbach/Bevan: What is a Head?
- Quarantine Diary
- Michael during a talk at Bedford School
- The Making of Modern Art
- ‘The Valves of Sensation’
- Photographs at Michael’s Home in Southwest France
- On Francis Bacon and My Life in Art
- Paris Among the Artists
- Bacon / Giacometti: A Dialogue
- Talks at the RA and American Library
- Two Talks at the Cercle Littéraire de Lausanne
- ‘Francis Bacon: An Intimate Portrait’
- Two Talks about Francis Bacon
- PEPPIATT ON BACON: A COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY
- NEW INTERVIEWS
- ART PLURAL: VOICES OF CONTEMPORARY ART
- NICOLAS DE STAEL EXHIBITION VIDEO
- NEW EXHIBITIONS
- MICHAEL’S 1987 INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIS BACON
- GIACOMETTI LECTURE
- INTERVIEWS WITH ARTISTS
- EXTRACTS FROM REVIEWS ON INTERVIEWS WITH ARTISTS
- New DVD
- Recent Exhibition
- NEW BROADCASTS