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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Typhoons and triptychs

Even I, a man of worldly cynicism, was struck today by the contrasting news from the coast of the Atlantic, where millions of dollars had been spent on record-breaking bid for a painting, and from the centre of the Pacific, where millions of Filipinos were spent of starvation and exposure in the wake of typhoon 'Haiyan'. That said, I suppose technically it was three paintings, being Bacon's triptych of Lucien Freud. There's no harm now in revealing that the artist and the  sitter both were students of mine in the early sixties, when I ran an open art college in a converted convent off the King's Road. I  remember the pleasure I gained as the raw, under-developed intellects of my charges blossomed under my tutelage. Fine art, sculpture, poetry, music, theatre... I encouraged every form of expression.

And to think of those names: Finney, Hepworth, Freud, Moore, Hendrix, Bacon, Brittan, Greene. I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Freud and Bacon were a contrasting pair in physique and temperament: one gangly, withdrawn and intense; the other a superficial, devil-may-care, squat mesomorph. Neither had a scrap of natural talent, but they were malleable enough, and hungry for the commercial success I led them to expect. While both were prepared to take risks with their art, I always knew that Bacon was cut-out to be the rasher.

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