Barry Joule, Francis Bacon’s former craftsman and close friend, has threatened to sue Tate for failing to publicly display a number of works by the late figurative artist that he donated in 2004. According to the Guardian, Joule has waited nearly two decades for the museum to host an exhibition around the $ 37 million donation, considered to be one of the most generous gifts the London institution has ever received, and 1,200 sketches, photographs and related items Includes documents. He also said he would revoke a promised gift of an important 1936 self-portrait by Bacon and nine other paintings by the artist from the same period.
“If the result is not satisfactory. . . by October 2021 on the terms and conditions of the Tate Joule Contract, ”Joule wrote on 3. I will request the full return of this my 2004 Tate Francis Bacon Studio Donation. And so the matter can ultimately be decided in court. “
Joule says Nicholas Serota, who was the director of the Tate at the time Joule proposed the gift, assured him in 2003 that the organization would host an exhibit on the subject within three years of the gift. A 2004 gift announcement from the institution appears to support this claim, which states: “Tate will undertake to study, photograph, and catalog the collection for the next three years before displaying these items and making them available for loan . ” Tate held a major exhibition of Bacon’s works in 2008, but did not include items from Joule’s gift. In 2017, Balshaw appeared as the director of the Tate, and Joule began writing to her to have the exhibition staged.
Joule, who met Bacon in 1978 when the Irish-born artist spied on him fixing a television antenna on a neighbor’s roof and invited him for a glass of champagne, said he donated the items to the Tate because it was Bacon’s favorite museum. He also donated about eighty drawings by Bacon to the Musée Picasso, which, according to Joule, were exhibited in a major exhibition in 2005 that combined his work with that of the renowned Spanish artist and was accompanied by a catalog.
Tate said she reached out to Joule to arrange a meeting in September on the matter.