As a companion to Wild Life: Francis Bacon and Peter Beard, we invite you to follow The Diary, a digital project by the team at Ordovas. Over the coming weeks it will delve deeper into the friendship between Francis Bacon and Peter Beard, exploring personal correspondence, interviews, diaries and artworks. We hope that it will shed more light on the important and inspiring relationship between these two luminaries.

 

‘In a sense, ‘The End of the Game’ as a title means the end of a period of life when we could play games and fool around with the wild beasts in the wilderness. Now there’s no time for this, and less and less space. We’ve ended up in a…
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This book, covered in Masai cloth, was a Christmas gift to Peter Beard from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her children. Peter Beard, Dead Elephant Diary, 1972
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Henry Geldzahler’s introduction to the exhibition catalogue ‘Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings 1968-1974’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975
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‘Thousands of years ago, when waved green and cool the mighty leaves whose impress is now and then found in coal, fathoms below the earth’s present surface; when indeed what now are grim coal fields, the lurking places of Darkness that may be felt, and of deadly gases hungering for…
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‘Because the places I live in, or like living in, are like an autobiography, I like the marks that have been made by myself, or other people, to be left. They’re like memory tracks for me. I could do them up each time and cover them up again. For instance,…
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‘Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings 1968-1974’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975
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Peter Beard, Diary pages “Day with Robert Rauschenberg at Tatyana Grosman’s Universal Limited Art Editions,” April 5-6, 1976 Peter Beard, Diary pages with Elizabeth Taylor and portrait of Peter Beard by Francis Bacon, March 5-6, 1978 Peter Beard, Lartigue and Bacon Diary Pages, November 19-20, 1984    
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Bacon and Beard had many shared interests and one of the most important of these was their mutual respect for Van Gogh. In 1957 Bacon had begun a series of paintings based on Van Gogh’s destroyed painting, The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, 1888. In 1984 Beard commenced a…
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‘There is a great story PB [Peter Beard] told me about how Francis gave him the drawing: PB was with Bacon in his studio one day and Bacon said he had heard an interesting definition of existentialism (zen). If a man draws a bucket of water from a river, the…
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SOUTH KENSINGTON LONDON SW7 AIRMAIL EXPRESS AIR MAIL Return address Peter Beard 829 Park Avenue N.Y.C N.Y. 10021 Dear Francis 2/2/’82 THE TIME HAS COMEIn the remote hope that after all this time you might actually be in London at the same time as I, here is my first letter…
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Shot at Peter Beard’s home in Montauk, the short film below from director Derek Peck gives a rare glimpse into the artist’s artistic practice as he works on his complex collages that bring together photographs, found objects, contact sheets, and literary quotes. ‘Peter is by turns charming and humorous, dark…
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Working documents from Francis Bacon’s studio: four of the thirty-nine photographs of dead elephants sent to Francis Bacon by Peter Beard in the late 1970s
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Peter Beard, Diary pages, Joy Mboya at Lenana’s Grave (L), Francis Bacon signature and postcard (R), 1990. Peter Beard, Diary Pages with photo of PB, Kamiti Prison, Nairobi, August 26 and September 4, 1978. Peter Beard, Opening Pages, Bicentennial Diary, 1976.
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Rhodesia 13/10/69 Dear Peter Sorry not to have written before. I am now not sure which date I leave Jo Burgh and there at the Nairobi airport one is not able to meet during the hour the plane waits there on account of Customs – I shall be back in…
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‘I have always hoped to make portraits which went far away from the illustration of the person I front of me, but that I could bring back in a non-illustrational way toward his more real appearance …. Painting is in a peculiar stage now because it’s so difficult to be…
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If you see somebody lying on the pavement in the sunlight, with blood streaming from him, that is in itself – the color of the blood against the pavement – very invigorating…exhilarating – In all the motor accidents I’ve seen, people strewn across the road, the first thing you think…
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Envelope addressed to Francis Bacon from Peter Beard, 1 August 1990 (verso and recto)
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Francis Bacon in conversation with Peter Beard (Henry Geldzahler’s introduction to the exhibition catalogue ‘Francis Bacon: Recent Paintings 1968-1974’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1975)  
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F.B.: I think one of the great fascinations of old photographs quite apart from the texture, the scratches, and stains and general quality of them, is that you think, “Now they’re all dead.” Those people who were walking about and never felt that death would come to them, as the…
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‘One of the first times I went [to Francis Bacon’s studio], he was working on the centre panel of a triptych called Sweeney Agonistes – a murder scene in a train compartment – and I had a Polaroid with me and took some pictures of it. Later he told me that looking…
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7 Reece Mews London SW7. Re Peter Beard Arles Computer Dissolve Paris M.O.M.A 1986. 1 hr. Attention Getty Museum Group Having for many years seen the remarkable Diaries and photographs that Peter Beard has made to record a unique and remarkable life, I believe this form of documentation has enormous…
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A trillion greetings – in this list of non-news “Le Bestouan” Cassis B. du R. October 15th, 1985 deer Francis, I DO believe in SYMBIOSIS and I think often of your words concerning the dead eles * -> in some way I hope they offered a chance for you to…
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‘[Francis Bacon] painted me between 1975 and ’78 – four triptychs, and a lot of singles also, heads. Nobody ever sits for Bacon – he did it just from photos and knowing me. In one triptych, my shaved head from Kamiti Prison is on the right – there I am,…
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FB: I’m not certain if I know what you’re saying. PB: A picture being like life; a balance of chaos and order; a balance of speed and meticulous carefulness; a balance of strength and terrific delicacy; a balance of humor and terrific wisdom; morbidness and recognized beauty; primitiveness and very…
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‘I was at one of [Francis Bacon’s] openings at the Marlborough Gallery in London where he was standing in some kind of reception line and I simply said, ‘Hi – Peter Beard’. He said, ‘I know who you are.’ It was my very great luck that he had just bought…
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‘As an unusual favor, Bacon set up this portrait on the top of a building he had just bought, 80 Narrow Street. I had complete free will in whatever I wanted to do. I started off with the Thames River in the background and just talking to Bacon about things…
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