Description: Adrian Scarborough reads Michael Peppiatt’s intimate and indiscreet account of his thirty-year friendship with the defining artist of our time.
Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in June 1963 in Soho’s French House to request an interview for a student magazine. Bacon invited him to lunch, and over oysters and Chablis they began a friendship and a no-holds-barred conversation that would continue until Bacon’s death in 1992.
The Soho photographer, John Deakin, who introduced the young student to the famous artist, called Peppiatt ‘Bacon’s Boswell’. And for decades, Peppiatt accompanied Bacon on his nightly round of prodigious drinking from grand hotel to louche club to casino, witnessing all aspects of Bacon’s ‘gilded gutter life’, as well as meeting the likes of Lucian Freud, East End thugs, Andy Warhol and the Duke of Devonshire. He also frequently discussed painting with Bacon in his studio, where only the artist’s closest friends were ever admitted.
Despite the chaos Bacon created around him Peppiatt managed to record scores of their conversations ranging over every aspect of life and art, love and death. And here he shows Bacon close-up, grand and petty, tender and treacherous by turn, and often quite unlike the myth that has grown up around him.
Episode 1/5: Under the Spell: the young ingenue Peppiatt is taken into Bacon’s circle.
2/5: Bacon’s Boswell: Peppiatt becomes Bacon’s Boswell, and there is mischief in Morocco
3/5: The dregs are what I prefer: high and low-life in Paris.
4/5: Poor George: life, death and guilt
5/5: A Kind of Immortality: Peppiatt loses a ‘father’, and becomes a man.
Reader: Adrian Scarborough
Writer: Michael Peppiatt is an art historian, curator and writer. His 1996 biography of Francis Bacon was chosen as a ‘Book of the Year’ by the New York Times.