The Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation will be inaugurated by Prince Albert of Monaco in Monte Carlo today. The opening of the philanthropic organisation marks the anniversary of the birth of the great British painter on October 28th 1909. The new foundation is the creation of Lebanese-born Swiss property developer Majid Boustany; and gathers together over 2,000 Bacon-related items including artworks, photographs, works on paper, and working documents, this also includes examples of the artist’s furniture and rug designs from his early career. Some of these objects are on public view for the very first time.
The Bacon foundation will operate in close collaboration with the Francis Bacon Estate, and will occupy the ground floor of Villa Elise at 21 Boulevard d’Italie, wich was originally a domestic space inspired by the artist’s remark that he preferred to have his work shown in small space “where his paintings seemed more intense.” In this space the foundation will organise exhibitions in collaboration with other institutions and fund research that will begin with a 12-month project led by art historian Katharina Günther. In the meantime the foundation will search out Baconian objects of interest.
Francis Bacon moved to Monaco for a time, and continued to live in the principality until the early 1950s. The artist did this with the proceeds made from selling Painting 1946 to dealer Erica Brausen, in 1946 – who went on to sell it to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“I have found a villa with what I hope will be a wonderful room to work in, there are plenty of rooms and bathrooms so do come and stay if you feel like it at any time … It’s is wonderful here, terribly expensive, and the days hot and trembling like the middle of Summer” – Bacon wrote to the gallerist in an undated letter published in Michael Peppiatt’s Francis Bacon in the 1950s. Boustany has developed a particular interest for Bacon’s little-known Monegasque period; having been a resident for over three decades.
Majid Boustany came across Bacon at Tate Britain while studying as a student and was immediately taken with the painter after he saw ‘Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion’ (1944) “I was shocked by the profoundly disturbing half-human, half-animal organic forms, but, strangely enough, I felt utterly fascinated by these menacing creatures, surrounded by vivid cadmium orange,” he told artnet News. “My fascination with the oeuvre of this uncompromising artist, who described the images he created as a ‘concentration of reality’, has grown constantly over the last 20 years.”
Bacon’s ‘Monegasque period’ is one of the areas the foundation has been created to investigate. as the results could potentially be very rich. “We’ve discovered that Bacon started painting on the unprimed side of the canvas after losing all of his money in the Monaco Casino,” said Boustany to artnet, “and as you know, this became one of the trademarks of his style!”
Bacon scholar Martin Harrison talking to the Observer, noted: “He [Boustany] seemed too good to be true. Everyone was a bit skeptical … They checked Boustany out. His family … are philanthropists and they give scholarships in business studies to Harvard and Cambridge each year. Everything checked out … He spends about 24 hours a day working on Bacon!”
Members of the public will be able to attend the foundation by appointment beginning in March 2015.