Perry Ogden, John Edwards, 7 Reece Mews

Francis Bacon’s studio (Thames & Hudson, London, 2001), 129 pp, 60 col. ills £14.95 (hb) ISBN 0500510342.

Perry Ogden, who lives in Dublin, and documented the local outlaws, the “Pony Kids" in his first book, was invited to document the actual interior of Irish-born Francis Bacon’s London studio at 7 Reece Mews after his death and before the studio was reconstructed, with the help of archaeologists, in Dublin. Francis Bacon’s studio was published to coincide with the unveiling, at Dublin’s Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, of the reconstruction. Mr Ogden’s 60 photographs pre-date the deconstruction and reassembly, documenting the original location, an existential work of art in its own right. Starting outside, Ogden then takes us on a complete room by room tour of the millionaire painter’s studio residence (described by Bacon as a "dump"), in life-like colour, some time after the great man‘s demise. Not only is photography still largely perceived as fine art’s poor cousin, but, all too often, as here, copyright in the work is assigned to the subject (Estate of Francis Bacon). While John Edwards, Bacon’s heir and last long-term companion, reminisces on life at his celebrated painter pal‘s pad—since demolished, making way for Mr Edwards new house on the same site—Mr Ogden’s name is omitted from the cover, only appearing below Edwards’s on the spine, as if he, not Mr Edwards, played second fiddle.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 117 September 2001