The latest row in the Bacon world has erupted in Paris, where the Musée Picasso was last month forced to banish archival material donated by Barry Joule to a separate display in the basement, rather than show it in the main exhibition. “Bacon Picasso: the life of images” (until 30 May) is the main show, with 120 works by the two artists, demonstrating Picasso’s influence on the British painter.
The Francis Bacon Estate, which wields great power since its permission is necessary to reproduce the artist’s work, insisted that the Joule material should not be integrated with the paintings, on the grounds that its authenticity has not yet been established. It would have been impossible for the Musée Picasso to have produced an illustrated catalogue for “The life of images” without this clearance—and hence the museum’s reluctant decision to move the Joule donation to another gallery.
The original notice of the exhibition, issued earlier this year, recorded that the subtitle of the main show would be “The brutality of fact”, and it clearly noted that it would include the Joule material, which was described as “important”. It also announced that the exhibition catalogue would be 350 pages, but the final publication was 240 pages and a separate catalogue on the Joule donation is due out shortly.
Barry Joule, a long-time friend of Bacon, was given over a thousand papers just a few days before the artist’s death in 1992. Many of these are illustrations from magazines or books, some with Bacon’s sketched additions or marks. Although the authenticity of the material has been questioned, last year the Tate Archive accepted the donation of the bulk of the collection. A relatively small number of items related to Picasso were kept back and donated by Mr Joule to the Paris museum last October. The Joule donation currently on show at the Musée Picasso comprises 38 illustrations and five books.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Bacon Estate forces museum to banish Joule material to basement '