James Birch presents his new book Bacon in Moscow, a riveting memoir of his quest to stage an exhibition of his friend Francis Bacon’s work in the Soviet Union.
CROSSING BORDER ANTWERP 4 + 6 NOV 2022
Thijs de Raedt
The life and times of British art curator James Birch sound as unpredictable as the avant-garde oeuvre of the artists he has exhibited in his galleries over the years. And he is at Crossing Border this year presenting his new book Bacon in Moscow, a riveting memoir of his quest to stage an exhibition of his friend Francis Bacon’s work in the Soviet Union.
Growing up in a family of artists, Birch gravitated towards the creative, becoming a curator for artists including Bacon, cult superstars Gilbert & George, English occultist Austin Osman Spare, and industrial music pioneer and onetime frontman of Psychic TV Genesis P. Orridge.
His artist parents were friends with Bacon, who would become one of the most important painters in modern art, and Birch came to know the artist at a young age. Later he followed Bacon on his pub-crawls in Soho. One night the idea was born to organise a Bacon exhibit in the Soviet Union. It caused Birch to become the focus of the KGB and a shady cast of politicians and officials, but in the end, he brought a rare glimpse of western culture to Russia in the throes of Perestroika.