Introduction On May 27, 1988, Lucian Freud's Portrait of Francis Bacon was stolen from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The painting was on loan from the Tate in London. In Tate Britain's storage room, in front of the drawer where it was kept when it wasn't on display, I asked curators, guards, and other staff members to describe the missing work. Text It was often on display, but not in a particular, location. I always think of paintings as if they were coming from their home when we hang them. This one didn't have it's own house ; it was the portrait of an artist living in the back of the store, locked up in the « P » drawer It was small. Small and vulnerable. Seven inches by five. So tiny. A jewel, a miniature. Precise. Compact Meticiculous. Withdrawn. The expression on the face was melancholic. The mouth was just as if he had some little secret of his own. I believe the eyes were blue It was pure. It looked at me with blue eyes-a fairly intense blue as I recall. A very expressive face showing a total awareness of the tragedy of the human condition. Here was a man who saw clearly what life is about A man in his eraly forties. A little bit aggressive. Slightly neurotic. Big eyes looking straight at you. Plump cheeks, pointed chin, mouth closed. Fairly pronouced lips. The hair is thick, swept back, dark. When I remember it, I start to see my father's face in it. Except for hair ; my dad didn't have much hair A gentle portrait that seems rather coy in its depiction of Bacon, the man. You really feel that it is looking directly at you, when in fact he's looking down-it adds a whole modesty to the image. It has a freshness to it, and a clarity of light and a clarity of form All I remember is a little fat face . . . very big cheeks, jowlish cheeks. With that sort of drunken look. I associate it with London. Drinking in London. The man looks preserved in fluid, a little bit pickled, like formaldehyde I did like it but always used to think I shouldn't. I thought it was too brutal, a bit vulgar. Powerful, but in the way a schizophrenic might be powerful A rather bland, impersonal image. Watery eyes looking out of the pictures downwards. . . . It didn't particularly convey any emotion to me, only maybe that sort of state described as « alienation » I remember a kind of ivory hue with some yellow-ochre, and then an understated steely blue-gray. It's almost as though the face was divided up into planes which captured the light in different ways, becoming like a land, like a complete world of its own, as if we were walking through the cuts like furrows that interrupt the surface and almost tactile curves and protuberances . . . all of which may sound a very strange way of describing what is actually a 1952 portrait of Francis Bacon head-on, top of the head to the neck, painted in oil on a very thin copper panel. With a substantial gilded frame-quite heavy for its size-that made it look more impressive I can't remember whether it was a portrait of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon or a portrait of Bacon by Freud. But there was a close relationship between the artist and the sitter I think of it as « the Bacon ». I have to force myself to think that it's a Freud painting, rather than a Bacon self-portrait. It shows Bacon's little sort of chubby face, looking down, very closed, very reserved, greenish eyes, yellow hair. Somebody once said that Bacon's face was like that of the pansy flower, and I could see why in this portrait It is the portrait of an outsider. When I heard it had gone, this mysterious, downcast look, those compelling but disturbing eyes immediately came back to me. Haunted eyes, as though they were thoughts in the mind of the sitter that were hard to dispel. It's uncomfortable. It reminds you of thoughts that we would much rather not have, the kind that make one look pale and clammy I think it is the most tender porrait I've ever seen of Bacon. I remember the long eyelashes, the lock of hair casting a shadow, a bit like Hogarth's self-portrait. It seemed more like a private image than a public property. An iconic object of domestic size. Unusually small, unusually pale, and with an extraordinary intensity that seemed out of proportion with its size. On that scale you tend to paint more tightly, more precisely, more lovingly perhaps It looked a bit like a Holbein, but it was also very twentieth century because of this element of caricature about it. I remember the gray color of the flesh, almost like elephant skin, and the eyes a bit vacant A very existentialist painting that gives the impression that the sitter has gone through extreme experiences. It is Genet and Sartre. But it's difficult to disentangle whether this is because the image conveys that impression or because one already knows that it is Francis Bacon * It shows Francis Bacon's face almost entirely filling the painting, painted in the manner of a sixteenth-century painter, a bit like Cranach or Durer. There was this thing about the eyes being closed, when they absolutely weren't. As if he had died. Purloined / Tableaux dérobés

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Perrotin Seoul
Founded in Paris in 1990 by Emmanuel Perrotin, then 21 years old, the gallery has become one of the most
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