Author(s): Michael Peppiatt
It is a story I have been wanting to write for a long time, telling it as it really was before that whole world that I shared with Francis vanishes...
Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in June 1963 in Soho's French House to request an interview for a student magazine he was editing. Bacon invited him to lunch, and over oysters and Chablis they began a friendship and a no-holds-barred conversation that would continue until Bacon's death thirty years later.
Fascinated by the artist's brilliance and charisma, Peppiatt accompanied him on his nightly round of prodigious drinking from grand hotel to louche club and casino, seeing all aspects of Bacon's 'gilded gutter life' and meeting everybody around him, from Lucian Freud and Sonia Orwell to East End thugs; from predatory homosexuals to Andy Warhol and the Duke of Devonshire. He also frequently discussed painting with Bacon in his studio, where only the artist's closest friends were ever admitted.
The Soho photographer, John Deakin, who introduced the young student to the famous artist, called Peppiatt 'Bacon's Boswell'. Despite the chaos Bacon created around him Peppiatt managed to record scores of their conversations ranging over every aspect of life and art, love and death, the revelatory and hilarious as well as the poignantly tragic. Gradually Bacon became a kind of father figure for Peppiatt, and the two men's lives grew closely intertwined.
In this intimate and deliberately indiscreet account, Bacon is shown close-up, grand and petty, tender and treacherous by turn, and often quite unlike the myth that has grown up around him. This is a speaking portrait, a living likeness, of the defining artist of our times.
Deeply intimate memoir-biography of the most important artist of the twentieth century
This fine portrait of the artist is both gossipy and poignant ... [and] one of the best art books I have read, by turns atmospheric and waspishly gossipy but also profound and poignant. -- Michael Prodger The Times A vivid new memoir by the artist's protege is set to be a classic ... highly entertaining ... the narrative comes hurtling off the page with a palpable sense of release and apparently guileless, even artless, candour.The cavalcade of bohemian celebrities goes on and on ... captivating...a classic, not only of art writing, but of personal memoir Sunday Telegraph There is a certain grisly satisfaction in watching an artist behave as one expects an artist to. Francis Bacon ... always delivered and just how richly is recorded by Peppiatt ... A wonderfully vivid account -- Art Book of the Year Sunday Times The best art memoir published in years Spectator An intoxicating tour of the painter's louchest, and most productive, years -- Susie Rushton Vogue Peppiatt offers a window into the experiences and emotional intelligence of this great artist New Statesman A remarkable book ... it captures what it was like to be in the presence of this brilliant, camp, reckless, waspish, drunken, generous, shameless character. Michael Peppiatt brings him back to life and somehow carries off the near-impossible trick of echoing the repetitive nature of his drunken talk ... while somehow preserving his electricity and effervescence -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday An intimate memoir of two intense and interlaced lives ... Full of gossip, binges, nausea, bruises, stained sheets, punchlines and death wishes -- Richard Davenport-Hines Times Literary Supplement This fine memoir is more insightful than gossipy, and as a subject Bacon is just about unbeatable New York Times Fascinating and engaging -- Lynn Barber Sunday Times Entertaining, calculated and acerbic, Michael Peppiatt really does seem to have a bit of Bacon in his blood Spectator Every page is fresh, immediate, and flashing with glimpses into Bacon's complicated psyche -- Donna Seaman Booklist An affecting personal narrative about his friendship with the great painter Publisher's Weekly Francis Bacon's views on art, death and his bohemian circle make revealing reading in this enjoyable memoir Independent An enthralling, delightful story of two very different men Kirkus Part diary, part art history, part love letter, his memoir captures what it was like to know this brilliant, camp genius ... an excellent glimpse into a vanished London bohemia -- Rebecca Wallersteiner The Lady
Michael Peppiatt studied at the University of Cambridge, where he began his career as an art writer by writing exhibition reviews for the Observer. In an international career as a writer and curator, he has curated numerous exhibitions of Francis Bacon's and other artists' work and been published in Realites magazine, Le Monde, the New York Times, the Financial Times, Art News and Art International, which he bought and relaunched in 1985. He is also the author of the definitive Bacon biography, the 1997 Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma. In 2005 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Cambridge for his published work in the field of twentieth-century art. He is a member of the Society of Authors and the Royal Society of Literature, and in 2010 he joined the international board of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome.