Relocation of Francis Bacon's Studio

1998 - 2001
The Hugh Lane/Dublin City Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

In 1998, the artist Francis Bacon's heir John Edwards and Brian Clarke, the sole executor Bacon's estate, donated the contents of Bacon's London studio to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Bacon’s studio at 7 Reece Mews, Kensington, where he had worked for 30 years, had been left largely untouched since his death in 1992. Preserving this space for posterity, a team of archaeologists, art historians, conservators and curators moved the studio in its entirety to Dublin, transporting over 7,000 items, alongside the studio’s doors, floors, walls and ceiling.

Recreating the space in which the artist had made many of his greatest paintings, this reconstruction provides insights into Bacon’s art and methods. Particularly striking for Clarke, for example, were the traces of destruction found in the studio. Finding canvases with faces cut out, or slashed with a knife, Clarke reflected in his essay Detritus, ‘It seems destruction was a very important part of Francis’ creative process and without having methodically sifted and sorted through the studio contents we wouldn’t really know this.’

In 2001, the relocated studio was opened to the public, with a fully comprehensive database — the first computerised record of the entire contents of an artist's studio.