Monday, August 8, 2011

Lucian Freud Complete Story

Lucian Freud Complete Story

Lucian Freud Remembered. Images of (and links to) his Astounding Work.

Freud was born in Berlin in December 1922, and came to England with his family in 1933. He studied briefly at the Central School of Art in London and, to more effect, at Cedric Morris's East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham. Following this, he served as a merchant seaman in an Atlantic convoy in 1941. His first solo exhibition, in 1944 at the Lefevre Gallery, featured the now celebrated The Painter's Room 1944. In the summer of 1946, he went to Paris before going on to Greece for several months. Since then he has lived and worked in London.

Freud's subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. As he has said 'The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement really'. Paintings in the exhibition will range from Girl with Roses 1948 to Garden, Notting Hill Gate 1997, and highlights include the marvellous series of portraits of his mother, portraits of fellow painters John Minton, Michael Andrews and Frank Auerbach, and other major works including Large Interior W11 (after Watteau) 1981-3. Sharp pictures of his youth will contrast with the works of his maturity, paintings filled with life and liveliness, each in its way a celebration.

'I paint people', Freud has said, 'not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be'.

above: Lucian Freud self-portrait (one of many), Reflection, 2005

British realist, figurative and portrait painter Lucian Freud, who was one of the greatest artists of our time, passed away at the age of 88 on July 20th.

above: photo of Lucian Freud by David Montgomery

above: a young Lucian Freud in his studio (photographer unknown)

The grandson of the 'Father of Pyschoanalysis,' Sigmund Freud, Lucian was well-known and critically acclaimed for his prolific work. Many of his paintings have broken art auction records and he was greatly respected by both fellow artists, instructors, critics and the art-savvy public.

above: Lucian Freud's Reflection (a self-portrait) with two children

above photo of Lucian Freud working at night by David Dawson, 2oo5

There have been many wonderful articles, documentaries, blog posts and more written on artist Lucian Freud (occasionally spelled Lucien). For that reason, I won't go into depth about his career but will share some links to interesting articles and several images of some of his paintings (please note that his drawings and etchings are equally superb and compelling). There are additional links at the end of this article so you can peruse his vast and impressive repertoire.

Portrait of Harry Diamond:

Portrait of David Hockney:

photo of Hockney and Lucian Freud in Freud's atelier:

Portrait of Francis Bacon:

Father and Daughter:

Interior (after Watteau):

Interior in Paddington:

Portrait of the Queen:

Bella and Esther:

He captured himself, friends, family, fellow artists and a few famous folks (Jerry Hall, Kate Moss and more) in portraits he referred to as "naked' rather than nude. Often immortalized as sleeping or reclining, his thick brush strokes and energetic style were unmistakable. In his own words he "turned paint into flesh" and in the following selection of portraits, that is clearly visible.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping:

Naked portrait with reflection:

two different portraits of Leigh Bowery:

photo of Leigh Bowery's sitting for Freud:

An homage to Cezanne:

Eight Months Gone, a portrait of a pregnant Jerry Hall:

his portrait of model Kate Moss:

Lucian Freud with muse (one of several) Kate Moss:

The Painter Surprised by a Naked Admirer:

Lucian Freud was also a dog lover - he owned two beloved whippets named Pluto and Eli- and many of his portraits coupled himself and friends with dogs, like those shown below:

above image of Lucian Freud, 2005, by photographer David Dawson

Girl with White Dog:

Guy and Speck:

Guy with Speck:

Eli and David:

David and Eli:

Portrait with whippet:

Double Portrait:

Double Portrait:

Triple Portrait:


Since his recent passing, many articles have appeared, here are just a few:

• A New York Times article by William Grimes and another New York Times article by Michael Kimmelman and its accompanying side show

• The Los Angeles Times' Remembering artist Lucian Freud

• The Guardian's article featuring good links and tributes to the artist.

• The Mirror's profile of the artist.

• The Telegraphs' Lucian Freud: A Life In Pictures

• The Independent's A singular portraitist. A tireless hedonist. A dear friend.

• The Daily Mail asks Did Lucian Freud Love his Art More Than His Children? in this article about his personal life.

And shown here in 3 parts is a 2010 documentary on the painter's retrospective exhibit (160 paintings) posted on YouTube by artcatal:

Some links to his work:

Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings at MoMA

Lucian Freud at the Centre Pompidou

Lucian Freud on Artnet

Art by Lucian Freud on the Museum Syndicate

Lucian Freud: An Appraisal Upon His Death
I've been dithering and dallying for a long time about writing a post on English painter Lucian Freud (1922-2011), grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Seeing as he upped and died a few days ago, I'm running low on excuses: so here goes.

His Wikipedia entry is here and the Telegraph's obituary here, the latter being quite interesting. The image sites in Google and Bing have plenty examples of Freud's work, though perhaps not many of the gamiest of his "spread shots" of male and female nudes; for those, you'll have to go to a bookstore with a good collection in its art section. The top picture above the text shows him at work on an uncharacteristically smooth painting of a nude, the lower shows a 1981 painting of his daughters Bella that provides a view of how he treated skin during his mature period.

What to make of Freud, the artist?

His career was successful. That's a good thing so far as I'm concerned; posthumous recognition is no comfort to a dead artist. He painted representationally. I find that good, too -- especially in an age when the artistic/cultural establishment dismissed that approach.

So how did this representational painter manage to forge a successful career running against the art fashion grain?

For one thing, his family name must have helped some. It caught the attention of art opinion leaders. It opened doors for commissions.

But what I think really mattered is that, aside from some landscapes, the art he produced is ugly. Modernism, especially in its postmodern guise, loves ugly. Ugliness and its cousin edginess somehow make art more "serious" than that old-fashioned, rather silly pursuit of beauty. And what is beauty but a social construct forged by an evil establishment (not to be confused with our humble, worthy, postmodern art establishment).

So Lucian Freud actually didn't stray all that far from the postmodern corral, cranking out ugliness in spades, painting after painting of overweight, over-aged or sometimes skeletal human figures, often nude with blotchy skin and sex organs the center of attention. On occasion he might feature a more conventional looking female nude in a painting and he most certainly favored such women in his personal life. But if you need to maintain your lifestyle in the age of postmodernism, you have to keep producing what sells.

It would have been interesting if Freud had made a stronger effort to get out of the stylistic rut that gained him his notoriety. To make a beautiful painting, for instance. If he could.

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