Daily Pampering: An evening in Paris with Lucian Freud

Is there any greater luxury than art? Nothing compares to dropping several million dollars on a single canvas, arranging to have it shipped home and having it suspended from your wall. Beyond an aesthetic decision or an investment, it’s also a reminder of a trip that will stay with you forever. So, if you’re planning an art-related trip, Paris needs to be on your mind. Though Lucian Freud failed to deliver on his black eye at auction last month, you can enjoy his work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from March 10 to July 19, 2010.

Lucian Freud, a pround member of the Francis Bacon “supply chain,” is among the poster-children of the art market boom that ended with the near-collapse of the global financial system in Septemer 2008. The hype around Freud began in 2002, when London‘s Tate was home to a retrospecive. Today, we aren’t seeing the eight-figure price tags for Freud’s work common through May 2008 , bu he’s still shown that he can rake in prices in the millions of dollars.

True decadence, of course, can only be found in snatching up one of these pieces and bringing it home.

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Francis Bacon comes to New York’s Met

If you missed the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Museo Del Prado in Madrid back in the early part of the year, you have a second chance this summer. The reclusive artist, who produced only around 1,000 paintings in his 83-year life, is well represented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, with a large show that traces the artist’s career from a false start in 1933 through his twilight in the 1980s.

The collection is, to say the least, extensive. Each room highlights a period in Bacon’s life, from his haunting work in the 1940s to the “man in a cage” theme that followed. The exhibit also tracks Bacon’s love life, with paintings of George Dyer and John Edwards, for example, in abundance. Surprisingly, the breadth of the New York show is even greater than that of Madrid.

The true success of this show, however, is in the targeted success the Metropolitan Museum of Art realized in securing related paintings. Several of Bacon’s interpretations of Velazquez’s Pope Innocent X work can be viewed side-by-side – a rare treat for Bacon fiends and art lovers in general.

If you can’t make it to Manhattan this summer, don’t worry. The Bacon centennial celebration will continue later this year at the Tate in London.

Celebrate the Francis Bacon centennial, starting in Madrid

Reclusive, crazy and not as prolific as most other artists, Francis Bacon produced only around 1,000 paintings before his death. Around the world, his pieces appear one or two at a time, but few have the resources or reason to assemble a large retrospective. This year, that changes.

One hundred years ago, Francis Bacon was born. For his centennial, exhibitions are rumored to be planned at London’s Tate and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. But, I was surprised to see a large sign as I walked along the Paseo del Prado last week: Francis Bacon. Until April 19, 2009, you’ll be able to witness the progression of this genius’s work over four decades, with a collection of unusual breadth and depth (take a closer look here).

This is an interesting time for Francis Bacon. Last year, his work was among the hottest in the world, with Russian energy figure Roman Abramovich dropping $86.3 million on a triptych painted in 1976. Not even a full year later, the art market is in turmoil, and the auction houses are unable to move Bacon’s work, it seems, at any price. It feels like a sad undercurrent to what should be a year of celebration, but New York artist Nelson Diaz disagrees.
Diaz appears to be downright prophetic, having protested the art market’s ascent with a political statement via eBay last summer. At the time, he explained that Bacon would have been disgusted with the high prices that his work fetched. Nelson’s protest is over, but it does make rich background for what should be a year of Francis Bacon retrospectives around the world.

In the video below, Nelson explains last summer’s project and its connection to Francis Bacon. If you’re looking to the future, his latest project is “The Isolated Christ.”

Whether you stop by the Tate, Met or Museo del Prado to enjoy the Francis Bacon centennial, keep this back-story in mind. It changes everything you’ll see.