Tate to Deaccession Francis Bacon Archive over Authenticity Concerns

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Francis Bacon painting 'Two Figures Lying on a Bed'

Unexpectedly, the Tate announced that it would be relinquishing a vast archive of material from the Francis Bacon estate. The archive was donated by a close confidant of the Irish-born artist. This happened after researchers questioned the authenticity of the gifts.

The step was made just two months after Barry Joule, a Brit who befriended Francis Bacon in 1978 while living in London, canceled his original plan to donate another group of works. He was unable to exhibit the controversial archive he donated almost two decades ago. Barry Joule, who is said to have been in contact with the artist until his death in 1992, threatened to sue Tate over the split.

In 2004, Barry Joule donated almost 1,200 archive points covering the drawings in the photo from the Bacon studio, which cost about 20 million pounds ($ 25.1 million). At that time, Tate said that he would catalog the donation for three years before making it available for the exhibition, but the promised public showcase was never carried out.

The museum said that now he offers the archive back to the donor. This step is rare but legally acceptable for UK institutes. In a statement, Tate said that  Barry Joule’s archival materials were studied artificially by historians, and this study caused reliable doubts regarding the nature and quality of the material. But Joul, in turn, denied any claims that the archive contains false materials.

In April, it turned out that doubts about the archive of Bari Joule were thrown back. Barry Joule said that instead, he intended to donate Bacon’s second group of works – 150 drawings, 10 paintings, and other archival materials, including documents and audio recordings – to the national archive of the Centre Pompidou in France and negotiations have already begun. Francis Bacon was the subject of a retrospective, focused on his literary influence in 2019 in the French museum called Bacon: Books and Painting.

Is Tate’s movement to discharge a long-standing archive unclear or not, affects current negotiations between Joule and Pompidus on the receipt of another tranche of work, is still unclear.

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