‘There are an awful lot of my paintings I don’t like,’ admitted Francis Bacon

In 1959, Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ was hanging above the bed where Francis Bacon nursed a fractured skull after falling downstairs drunk at his framer Alfred Hecht’s house on the King’s Road. It was there to be re-framed – a circumstantial detail Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan report neutrally, en passant, in their 2021 biography Francis Bacon: Revelations. An inadvertent cry, nay a scream, for attention? Or a frame-up? It was a decade after Bacon painted his first screaming pope, a palimpsest obviously based on Velázquez but equally in hock to Munch. Francis Bacon: A Self-Portrait in Words is an annotated compilation by Michael Peppiatt of statements, letters, studio notes

The big picture: two books on artists and their lives

Michael Peppiatt (born 1941) explains in the introduction to his new book of essays that he has from the start of his career been attracted to the lives of artists, as much as, if not more than, their work. Accordingly, he should find a ready audience with the British, who much prefer the written word to the visual image, and who always seem to spend more time on information panels than exhibits in museums, when not in a side gallery watching documentaries about the artists’ lives. In this book Peppiatt assembles a selection of biographical studies of some of the artists whose work quickens his heart. None of it is

‘My attachment to Giacometti grew into the bedrock of my existence’

Michael Peppiatt is an octogenarian English art historian, based in London and Paris, who has met many of the artists he writes about. But, sadly, he never met Alberto Giacometti. He was working as a translator when, in 1966, he applied for a junior editor’s job at Réalités magazine in Paris and, much to his surprise, got it. He went to say goodbye to his friend Francis Bacon,who offered to give him an introduction to Giacometti. Bacon wrote it in felt-tip on a torn-out page of Paris Match and told Peppiatt to take it round to Giacometti’s studio, which he did. But then he stood irresolute at the door, lacking