DON BACHARDY was born. The lifelong partner of writer Christopher Isherwood, Bachardy is one of the most respected portrait artists in the U.S. and a widely respected artist in his own right.
Born in Los Angeles, Bachardy began drawing as a child. By his early teenage years, he was specializing in portraits rendered in ink and acrylics. Bachardy attributes his interest in looking at people to his childhood obsession with movies, a passion carried into his adult life. The close-ups of screen actors upon which he gazed as an impressionable child are at least partially responsible for his lifelong interest in portraiture.
Bachardy was only eighteen years old when he met Isherwood, who was thirty years his senior. The discrepancy in their ages shocked many of their friends; but in his memoir My Guru and His Disciple (1980), Isherwood observes that “I myself didn’t feel guilty about it, but I did feel awed by the emotional intensity of our relationship, right from its beginning; the strange sense of a fated, mutual discovery. I knew that, this time, I had really committed myself.”
Through his relationship with Isherwood over the years in Hollywood, Bachardy came in contact with most of the major names of the day, and painted their portraits. The book Stars in My Eyes catalogs some of the most famous of these fine line pen and ink drawings. He has moved on to full blown acrylic paintings of his subjects (this writer included). When I asked Don about the pen and ink drawings Bachardy simply said that he wanted to be “confident of my drafting skills” so he could move on to paint. He is the recent subject of a lovely documentary about his relationship with Isherwood, Chris and Don.
If you can find it, Bachardy’s stunning collection of daily portraits of his dying lover, Last Drawings of Christopher Isherwood is a stunning study of love, devotion, art and death. A masterwork.