It Seems Like Yesterday

On the ride back uptown, we talked about his favorite haunt in London’s Soho: Muriel’s, a nondescript drinking club in a basement on Dean Street near Shaftsbury Avenue in the theatre district. He likened it to Elaine’s, the sorely missed New York hangout for writers and artists on the upper East side of NY.

I’m glad I was able to photograph one of the most important artists of the 20th century. I found Francis Bacon to be a jovial person, with no stark, pent-up rage or chaos as depicted in his art. I wonder if he was really as laid-back and jovial as he appeared? Or was he elated by the prospect of his wonderful one-man MoMA show, which was about to open?

The formidable British artist Francis Bacon was in New York for the installation of his 1975 solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After overseeing the exhibition and making instant, forever friends of the installers at the museum, we jumped into a taxi, stopped by my apartment to pick up an additional lens, and headed downtown to the Bowery—which he called Skid Row. Bacon said he felt comfortable there on the Lower East Side, and that some of his inspiration came from these downtown journeys. He joked with random strangers in the local bars and bought them a round or two, and then everyone came outside, arm in arm, to be photographed by me.  

Francis Bacon at his solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.