Famous London artist who destroyed his OWN artwork worth £ 80,000 after seeing it for sale

When there’s a fine line between madness and genius, and at times it seems like a fault line that London sits on.

It would surely explain why it seems like a beacon for the eccentric, a long line of tightrope walkers on the insane-genius fault line.

One such eccentric was the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon, who had a habit of destroying his own paintings – no matter how many tens of thousands of pounds they were worth.

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After his death in 1992, Francis Bacon’s crammed South Kensington studio had to be cleared and what they found was an arts massacre.

About 100 slashed canvases were recovered.

It was, to be fair, something he was known for.

Bacon suffered terribly from perfectionism – and as anyone who has ever suffered from it in real life, and claims not just in an interview, perfectionism doesn’t mean “I care about doing things well”; it means, “I am so tormented by the need to be perfect that I can’t seem to finish anything”.

Bacon’s perfectionism came in the form of adding and adding and adding to a work.

English painter Francis Bacon in his studio, around 1960.

English painter Francis Bacon in his studio, around 1960.

According to art historian Jennifer Mundy, this meant that “his canvases were often so clogged with pigments that they had to be disposed of. He also routinely destroyed works that he was not satisfied with. ”

The most drastic example of destroying his own work came in 1979, according to Tom Quinn in his book London’s Strangest Tales.

The story was told among “an outrageous clique” of artists and writers who focused on Bacon.

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The story, which surely matches what we know about Bacon, was that he stopped outside a shop on Bond Street when he discovered one of his own paintings for sale.

And he decided he didn’t like it.

Bacon then went to the store and wrote a check for “something on the order of £ 80,000” for the painting, which they carefully wrapped for him (you’d expect it to be a down payment on a town house, wouldn’t you?)

Bacon left the shop and smashed the painting right in front of it.

Artist Francis Bacon at the Tate Gallery in London.  May 21, 1985.

Artist Francis Bacon at the Tate Gallery in London. May 21, 1985.

He even used his foot to drag it into the sidewalk “until it was beyond the power of a restorer to regain it”.

If there is a fine line between madness and genius, London really has to be where the line meets.

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