Did you know there was a well-known artist whose studio was so impressive for its mess that the entire place was reproduced piece by piece in a museum after his death? We are talking about British painter Francis Bacon, famous for his expressionistic figurative work, and whose reproduced studio is permanently housed in a museum in Dublin, Ireland. Today we’re going to look at the story of his studio chaos –and offer words of encouragement for those whose studios may not be famous, but perhaps almost as messy as Francis Bacon’s.
It's easy to think that unless your studio is well-organized, with everything at your fingertips, that you are somehow deficient as an artist. We are often advised to respect our materials and tools and to have systems for storage and keeping things neat and tidy. That may be good advice, but if that isn't the way you work, don't stress. Francis Bacon was regarded in his day as England's foremost figurative painter, yet he worked at the height of his career in a small, chaotic studio up a steep flight of steps despite his fame and wealth. At his death it contained over 7,000 items crammed into boxes, stacked against the walls, and covering the floor. These included--besides over 2000 items for painting such as paint tubes and brushes--some 1500 photographs, 100 slashed canvases, countless notes, books on a wide range of topics, piles of rags, empty paint cans and other debris. It was astonishlingly messy, yet it was what he preferred,
How do we know the details of what was in his studio? Bacon's studio was so impressive in its chaos that a few years after he died, it was thoroughly documented and excavated by a team of archaeologists and art conservators and reconstructed in its exact original condition at Dublin's Hugh Lane Gallery. Director Barbara Dawson took a huge risk in undertaking this project, which many saw as a worthless effort. But she was fascinated by Bacon's working conditions and was correct about the huge. interest this exhibit would generate for the museum.
Is there any lesson in this for us as artists in our own studios? Bacon's mess leads to questions about our own studios and their relationship to our creative processes. If everything is neat and organized, are you cutting off a channel to creative, free associations and juxtapositions?
In any case, the story of one of the most respected figurative artists of the 20th century may give you some permission to me as messy as you like…
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What's new at Cold Wax Academy? Rebecca and Jerry are busy preparing new presentations for their Spring Quarter weekly live, interactive sessions. The topics for Spring are Shape, Scale and Proportion, and Self-Coaching to improve your work habits and productivity.
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