Cultured Magazine

April/May 2015

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FRENCH TWIST 116 CULTURED © EDDY BATACHE MB ART COLLECTION Francis Bacon with Reinhard Hassert in Monte Carlo, November 1981 F rancis Bacon, the late Irish-born, 20th-century artist best remembered for painting raw, bleak renditions of the human condition, once arrived in Monaco with the intention of gambling away the 200 British pounds he had earned for one of his paintings. Despite its antithetical grandeur and sun-soaked shores, Monaco was for a time Bacon's primary residence and an incubator of an important period of his career—the start of his figurative phase in the 1940s and early '50s. Fittingly, Monaco is also the home to the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, an homage to his life and work there that opened to the public in March. The institution, founded as a resource to Bacon scholars by developer and art collector Majid Boustany, is a Belle Époque villa that's been converted into a rich exhibition of ar- tifacts from Bacon's life: early lithographs and portrait studies, correspondences, sketches, photographs and studio tools, as well as personal ephemera as quotidian as his Monaco bus pass or as monumental as the paint brushes used to create the legendary Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), the triptych that broke auction records when it sold at Christie's in 2013. The pieces on view, according to Boustany, collectively illustrate the complexities of Bacon's person. "Bacon's character had as many facets as his tortured pictures," says Boustany. "I have always been fascinated by the dualities within this genius: He was a loner who loved par- ties, an atheist obsessed with religious subjects, a generous and charming man who could turn cruel." As a nod to Bacon's addiction to the highs and lows of Monte Carlo's casinos, yet another feature that drew him to the region, the only surviving roulette wheel and chips from Bacon's London studio at 7 Cromwell Place will also be on view. Wanting to instill the foundation with a home-like feel, rather than one of a museum or gallery, Boustany turned to the interior designer Eduardo Cardenes to fill the space with lush- ness: marble and leather library shelves, deep grey velvet car- pets and flourishes of burnt orange that evoke Bacon's own palette. Boustany will be on hand to give eight-person tours twice weekly to the public, shedding intimate light on his own passion for the artist. "What I admire about Bacon's art is the way his paintings confront us with the human presence, drama and condition," he says. "This 'monstre sacré' was an exclusive witness and observer of his time." Monaco, once the sunny stomping grounds of Francis Bacon, is now home to the foundation bearing his name. BY JANELLE ZARA

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