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Francis Bacon Self-Portrait Study Leads Christie’s NY Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale

Christie’s announced the sale of the Francis Bacon’s Study for Self Portrait, 1964, (estimate on request) in the New York Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 12 November 2008. A rare example of a full length self-portrait, this work is truly a consummate representation of the artist’s complex character, as well as a tour-de-force of his indelibly original style of painting.

According to Christie’s International Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Brett Gorvy, “This crucial work by Francis Bacon is bound to attract international interest in the November Evening Sale. Study for Self-Portrait, is a rare and outstanding apogee in Bacon’s creative output.”

Study for Self Portrait is triumph of Bacon’s unapologetic metamorphosing of the human form. Grasping his hands while sitting on a bed, the subject is twisted from head to toe. The work affords the viewer a visceral awareness of the subjectivity within the artist, managing to achieve a sentiment that is both sensual and unsettling, lushly painted but underscored with a sense of violence. Study for Self-Portrait draws upon Rembrandt’s renowned self-portraits in its introspective depiction of Bacon’s inner struggle. Bacon depicts himself with a distorted twisting face so as to illustrate the complex matrix of perspectives that lie within, achieving a haunting effect that not only presents his physical person, but in fact reveals every pulsation existing within his being.

Bacon executed the present work in one of the most significant years of his career and life, experiencing the enormous satisfaction of critical acclamation in both a catalogue raisonné and a monograph by John Russell, and the unbearable anguish of the death of his lover, Peter Lacy. However, it was in this wake of professional success and personal tragedy that Bacon transitioned from a maverick to a master, a triumph which is evident within Study for Self-Portrait.

Today, Bacon’s self portraits are widely regarded as one of his most important bodies of work, and unquestionably part of the canon of great self-portraits in the history of art. This assessment became apparent last spring based on the tremendous demand for such works at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sales when the intimate-scaled works Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1976 realized $28,041,000/£14,380,000/€18,090,968 in New York, and Three Studies for Self-Portrait, 1975 led the June sale in London with £17,289,250/$34,457,475/€21,767,166.

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October 27, 2008 - Posted by | Artists, Auction, News, raw art gallery | , ,

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