‘Francis Bacon in Your Blood: A Memoir,’ by Michael Peppiatt

07REED-master675John Reed at the New York Times:

When Michael Peppiatt, at 21, met Francis Bacon, the 53-year-old artist was already all artifice, well spoken when well rehearsed, his bistro doctrines applauded by clinking glasses. Peppiatt, having taken over a student arts journal at Cambridge, had shown up in London’s Soho. It was 1963, and Peppiatt laid claim to but a tenuous introduction to the renowned painter he sought. At the bar of the French House, the youth was handled by the photographer John Deakin, who loudly advised: “My dear, you should consider that the maestro you mention has as of late become sofamous that she no longer talks to the flotsam and jetsam. . . . I fear shewouldn’t even consider meeting a mere student like you!”

Deakin’s proclamation turned the heads of the patronage, and a man called back, offering Peppiatt a chair. It was Bacon; Deakin had made an artful introduction, and Peppiatt, however accidentally, had found his apprenticeship. Over the next 30 years, Peppiatt would emerge as a critic, curator and publisher, and ultimately Bacon’s biographer. Joining Bacon for his nightly rounds, from restaurants to clubs, Peppiatt would ply Bacon with “interview” questions — a writer challenging the bromides of his celebrity subject. “Francis Bacon in Your Blood,” arriving some 20 years after Peppiatt’s seminal biography, “Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma,” is the result, a gouache découpé of a friend, against a background of art history.

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