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.

Lucian Freud, 1922-2011

Lucian Freud, who died Wednesday (July 20, 2011) at 88, was a giant of the postwar art world

Lucian Michael Freud, (8 December 1922 – 20 July 2011) was a British painter. Known chiefly for his thickly impasted portrait and figure paintings, he was widely considered the pre-eminent British artist of his time. His works are noted for their psychological penetration, and for their often discomfiting examination of the relationship between artist and model.
Born in Berlin, Freud was the son of an Austrian Jewish father, Ernst Ludwig Freud, an architect, and a German Jewish mother, Lucie née Brasch. He was a grandson of Sigmund Freud, the elder brother of the late broadcaster, writer and politician Clement Freud (thus uncle of Emma and Matthew Freud) and the younger brother of Stephan Gabriel Freud. He moved with his family to St John's Wood, London in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism. He became a British citizen in 1939, having attended Dartington Hall School in Totnes, Devon, and later Bryanston School.

LUCIEN FREUD: Painting in Impasto Style, Self-portrait
Theme: Painting in Impasto Style, Paintings by Lucien Freud. Self Portraits by Master Painters.
Here is a self-portrait by the master painter Lucien Freud. He is one of the great painters of our time and grand son of Sigmund Freud. In this self portrait he had used his favorite 'Impasto' style of painting.

What is Impasto

When paints are thickly applied on canvas, with brush or a palate knife, it would create a unique kind of appearance and texture. This is called the impasto style of painting. Literally the word impasto means ‘mixture’. While working under this style of painting, an artist can negotiate a special relationship between the colours on canvas itself. Moreover the artists remain well aware about the distance from which that they, the artists, see the paintings and the viewers see, as the viewers would not to see the painting from such a closeness an artists is supposed to see it.

This painting technique is suitable when an artist is using oil paint. Oil paints are relatively thick and they take more drying time. Moreover impasto has created a new type of relationship between the hues of the colours and their physical thickness. In a broader sense, impasto technique is an advancement in the field of spatial discoveries, creating relationship with the artworks and the viewers' eyes. Many artists used this technique of applying colours in their acrylic paintings, too. But 'impasto' has one limitation. It cannot be used if an artist uses watercolor or tempera, as these colours are fairly thin in characteristics.

Impasto is the method of putting the colours on canvass in a manner that it gives texture to a painting. It has its own advantages over the other styles. When an artist uses this as his or her style of painting, he or she has two unique intentions in mind. Firstly, the technique of impasto depicts the effects of light in a sophistic way. It enables an artist to have quantity of control over quality of the light and how to manage the reflections of light in a given painting. Secondly, it helps in adding a tint of expressiveness to painting. An art lover would recognize the artistic strength and speed in working of such an artist.
Lucian's paintings have become famous during his life time only. He is one of the most fortunate artists in this regard. As born in 1922, and pursuing his artistic career continuously, he owns a large collection of the paintings. At the height of his genius, he had painted women wearing no clothes. These paintings are regarded as her best creations.

THE TECHNIQUE: Under this technique, an artist would load colour on brush or palate knife, and the load would be more than normally an artist would do. The most important benefit of using impasto is that it converts a painting into a three dimensional state, gifting it with a sculptural look. The master artists like Rembrandt and Titian had used this energetic technique. Van Gogh had used this style to make his painting carrying artistic strength. He used it for displaying the utmost capacity of colours to recreate images which the artists would conceive in their minds. 

In recent time, too, the master painters like Hans Hofmann and Willem De Kooning have extensively used this technique, making their paintings looking more aesthetic and meaningfully expressive in nature. In the above painting, the modern painter Lucian Freud had done his self-portrait in impasto style. This painting is one of the best examples of this method. Sometimes these artists apply the paint in such a big stock that the painting itself really look a sculpture made out of colours. These artists really want to explore the possibilities of creating maximum depth in their paintings.

nepot al lui sigmund freud, nascut intr-o familie de evrei austrieci, a sfirsit cetatean britanic cu mari merite de novator al picturii contemporane.

mi se par cu totul deosebite nudurile [fie masculine!! fie feminine] din care dau mai jos citeva, primul fiind preferatul meu:

The original, unnerving, sustained artistic achievement of Lucian Freud, who has died aged 88, had at its heart a wilful, restless personality, fired by his intelligence and attentiveness and his suspicion of method, never wanting to risk doing the same thing twice. The sexually loaded, penetrating gaze was part of his weaponry, but his art addressed the lives of individuals, whether life models or royalty, with delicacy and disturbing corporeality.

Freud had a reputation for pushing subjects to an extreme. But unlike the American painters to emerge in the 1950s, his approach was in the western tradition of working from life and brought about with painstaking slowness, rather than unleashed virtuosity. Photographs taken in the studio by his assistant, model and good friend, the painter David Dawson, show Freud working from a roughly sketched charcoal form, the paint slowly spreading outwards from the head. Some canvases were extended, others abandoned while still a fragment.

Portraits of his maturity drew comparisons with equally shocking works by Courbet, Titian and Picasso, the feelings exposed registering as both brash and profound. The recorded stages of Ria, Naked Portrait 2006–07, his last large female nude, indicate the suspenseful build-up of pigment on her toe and the radiator; heavy incretions represent her curls and flushed face.

By 1987, the critic Robert Hughes nominated Freud as the greatest living realist painter, and after the death of Francis Bacon five years later, the sobriquet could be taken as a commendation, or it could imply an honour fit for an anachronistic "figurative" artist working in London. Art critics since Freud's first shows in the 1940s have had difficulties situating his achievement; the common solution has been to apply adjectives to the painted subjects in a way that reflects little more than personal taste, the writers telling readers whether the person portrayed was bored or intimidated, scrawny or obese, the paint slathered, crumbly or miraculously plastic.

Others, however, eschew this moralising tone and are prepared to be startled. Aidan Dunne, for example, reviewing the exhibition in Dublin in 2007, recognised how a single blonde model, "unmistakably" herself, in 1966 led Freud to push "the bounds of decorum in terms of mainstream depictions of the human body considered not as a generic type but as, to use his own term, a "naked portrait". Freud painted three versions of this fine-boned young woman on a cream cover, seen from above, each one a masterpiece. Her pictorial availability seems to some degree predicated on the artist's subtle way of incorporating in his paint strokes the upheavals and new perils that would enliven traditional gender relationships.

Freud was born in Berlin, to Ernst Freud, an architect and youngest son of the great psychoanalyst Sigmund, and Lucie Brasch. The family lived near the Tiergarten, with summers spent on the estate of Freud's maternal grandfather, a grain merchant, or at their summer house on the Baltic island of Hiddensee.

Realising the Nazi threat to Jews, his parents, Lucian and his brothers – Stephen and Clement – moved to England in the summer of 1933. At Dartington Hall, Devon, and then Bryanston, Dorset, Freud was preoccupied by horses and art rather than the classroom. He enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, in January 1939 but found the laid-back atmosphere repellent and rarely attended classes.

From 1939 to 1942 he spent periods at the unstructured school founded by Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines in East Anglia, first in Dedham, Essex, and then at Hadleigh, Suffolk. Morris proved a sympathetic mentor, one whose confidence and application gave Freud a sense of what it might mean to be an artist. In March 1941 Freud signed on as an ordinary seaman on the armed merchant cruiser SS Baltrover, bound for Nova Scotia. The ship came under attack from air and then by submarine, and on the return journey he went down with tonsillitis.

By the age of 18, the charismatic, talented young man with a famous name had attracted friends such as Stephen Spender and the wealthy collector and patron Peter Watson. Freud began visiting Paris, first in 1946 while on his way to Greece, where he stayed for six months, and again in 1947, with Kitty Garman, niece of his previous girlfriend Lorna Wishart, daughter of Jacob Epstein and the subject of one of the first major paintings, Girl in a Dark Jacket 1947. His connections in Paris extended to people linked to the arts in the 1930s, such as the hostess and collector Marie-Laure de Noailles.

The handful of surviving postcards contain no mention of postwar deprivations as he offers Méraud Guinness Guevara witty accounts of the installation of André Breton's surrealist exhibition in Paris in 1947, designed by Marcel Duchamp and Frederick Kiesler, and thanks for her hospitality in Provence. Freud expresses admiration for the "malevolence" the French showed to foreigners.

On familiar terms with Alberto Giacometti and Balthus, and, to some degree, Picasso, the young Freud, one senses, was marked for life by seeing how single-mindedly, and self-critically, these already famous artists pushed forward their art. When he moved in 1943 to Delamere Terrace on the Grand Union canal, the first of five addresses in Paddington, London, several of his Irish working-class neighbours became models, especially the brothers Charlie and Billy. A large picture with a spiky palm tree and a tense, young Eastender, Harry Diamond, comprises a poignant drama about survival, Interior in Paddington 1951.

Paintings of Freud's two wives – Garman (whom he married in 1948 and divorced four years later) and Caroline Blackwood (whom he married in 1953 and divorced in 1957) – and other intimate friends are filled with suspense and pain, apparent in the strands of hair and a hand raised to the cheek as much as the wide eyes. The pearly skin of these subjects becomes more translucent and the detail extra-perfect. In an article written in 1950, the critic and curator David Sylvester questioned the perversity of feeling in Freud's latest portrayals. "It is impossible to say whether this indicates the incipient decline of an art whose talent flowered remarkably early or simply that every new departure implies growing-pains."

By the time of the Venice Biennale in 1954 – Freud shared the British pavilion with Bacon and Ben Nicholson – the question of prodigy versus an ultimately significant artist was being argued regularly. Freud's only involvement with the art colleges came though accepting William Coldstream's invitation to join the new staff at the Slade in 1949 (he made occasional appearances in the studios until 1954).

It became convenient to account for shifts in Freud's work by focusing on his early reliance on drawing and to cite the influence of painters from northern Europe such as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Albrecht Dürer, or even to suggest a false comparison with the Neue Sachlichkeit painters (active in Germany in the 1920s but unknown to the young Freud) and overlook others as relevant as Paul Cézanne and Chaim Soutine. The significance of the change from sable to hogs' hair brush and flake white to Kremnitz white in the late 1950s was exaggerated. Freud was attracted to Bacon's merciless wit and risk-taking, admiring his impulsive handling of paint, yet curiously it was Bacon who tried repeatedly to fix an image of his younger friend's physical magnetism.

By the end of the 1950s Freud's fraught personal life contributed to a visual restlessness, and he began standing to paint, letting the raked perspective exaggerate the anatomies of his subjects. A greenish-yellow palette and vein-marked skin made the subjects, such as Woman Smiling 1958-59, superficially less attractive; the paintings exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery in London in 1958 and 1963 were harder to sell.

Freud's obsession with gambling on horses and dogs brought on debts and dangerous threats, although many of the most singular paintings are of fleshly men within the racing fraternity. The journalist Jeffrey Bernard, describing Freud's afternoons in the betting shop and evenings with the rich and distinguished (including "Princess Margaret's set"), wrote admiringly: "He has cracked the nut of how to conduct a double life." The artist's slightly leering face and naked shoulders appear between the fronds of a giant Deremensis, Interior with Plant, Reflection Listening 1967–68. A superb, dangerously over-worked, standing self-portrait, Painter Working, Reflection 1993 portrays the ageing artist wearing only unlaced boots, holding a palette and knife (he was left-handed), addressing the viewer like a silent actor; invariably paint applied imaginatively to the planes of walls and floor reads as though a leitmotif for the prevailing mood. Each millimetre, he insisted, had to become essential to the whole.

In the 1980s the bodies of the nudes pressed into the surrounding space, their three-dimensionality and almost modelled impasto describing deeply contoured forms like those within Freud's favourite bronzes by Rodin – Naked Balzac and Iris. Freud spoke of his curiosity about "the insides and undersides of things".

The reserved Bella Freud placed diagonally on a red sofa (1986) is one of the artist's masterpieces. Leigh Bowery and Freud had a mutually sustaining friendship that went on until just before the performance artist succumbed to an Aids-related illness at the end of 1994. Bowery's "wonderfully buoyant bulk was an instrument I felt I could use in my painting"; "yet it's the quality of his mind that makes me want to portray him". In front of Titian's Diana and Actaeon in 2008, he explained: "When something is really convincing, I don't think about how it was done, I think about the effect on me."

Several paintings approach allegory revisited as parody, beginning with Large Interior, W9 1973 (his mother and his lover), and the heavily promoted Large Interior W11 (After Watteau) 1981–83, with its awkward (and memorable) conjunction of five people from the artist's intimate life. Sitters sometimes came separately, as with Evening in the Studio, where the model Sue Tilley sprawls on the floor in the pose of seaside postcards with captions such as "Roll over Betty". The shuttered interior in Freud's house in Notting Hill was recorded in several large paintings, one now in a Dallas museum: a long-time friend, Francis Wyndham, sits reading in the foreground, whippet at his feet, and in the space beyond, a hybrid Jerry Hall/David Dawson nurses her son.

Annabel Mullen was painted with her shaggy-haired dog Rattler and reappears seven years later with a pregnant belly in Expecting the Fourth 2005 (only 10x15cm), and in a larger etching, limbs still like a thoroughbred, as described by one of Freud's favourite authors, Baudelaire: "vainly have time and love sunk their teeth into her".

Freud's exceptional ability to convey tactile information is evident in early drawings, especially those of gorse sprigs, a dead heron and a bearded Christian Bérard in a dressing gown. A similarly heightened, highly poetic, sensibility invades the etchings that began in the 1980s, black whorls and stippled textures fanatically worked, the artist relishing the "element of danger and mystery" that accompanies slipping a heavily worked plate into acid.

International exposure increased after the 1974 Hayward exhibition, nurtured by Freud's admirers, particularly William Feaver, curator of a Tate retrospective in 2002, and the dealer James Kirkman. The revival of interest in painting that emerged around 1980 led to outstanding British artists being ringfenced with an inappropriate label, the School of London. Freud thought his close friend Frank Auerbach the best British painter of his lifetime. Auerbach understood how no original concept or idiom could be credited with the mesmerising reality of art: "I think of Lucian's attention to his subject. If his concentrated interest were to falter, he would come off the tightrope. He has no safety net of manner."

A retrospective organised by the British Council reached Washington, Paris, London and Berlin in 1987–88, and the "recent work" exhibition created by the Whitechapel Gallery in 1993 drew crowds in New York and Madrid as well as the East End. Freud's representative from 1993, William Acquavella, had a buoyant, unwavering reckoning of the artist's worth – in others words in the league of 20th-century masters. In 2007 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organised an exhibition with great impact, titled The Painter's Etchings, Freud's place in postwar art history admitted through a side-door rather than placed in the canon.

The completion of a single picture turned into a newsworthy event. In 1993 a Daily Mail front-page headline asked: "Is this man the greatest lover in Britain?" A disconcerting recent painting, the artist working while "surprised by a naked admirer", fed readers' curiosity about the octogenarian's love life. The rather sensational Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995) achieved a record auction price for a living artist in May 2008, £17m, by which time Russian oligarchs had joined the wealthy North American collectors who had already replaced upper-class British patrons. The promotion of pictures at auction sometimes gave unfortunate prominence to the failures, notably the truncated picture of a pregnant Kate Moss.

The artist related his acceptance of honours – the CH in 1983 and the OM in 1993 – to his family's debt to Britain, the country that allowed them naturalisation in 1939. Freud described the move to England as "linked to my luck. Hitler's attitude to the Jews persuaded my father to bring us to London, the place I prefer in every way to anywhere I've been."

Queen Elizabeth II sat for a small portrait in 2001 which Freud donated to the Royal Collection. He selected the pictures for the important Constable exhibition that opened in Paris in 2002, respecting the artist's "truth-telling. The way he used the undergrowths to suit himself – things being soaked in water and so on – was a way of looking at nature that no one had really done before."

The portraits Freud made of his mother, beginning in 1972 and ending with a drawing from her deathbed in 1989, are a remarkable elegy of ageing and depression. When his children (15 or so were recognised) began leading independent lives, most of them came to sit for him and he was proud of their talents. Bella Freud is a fashion designer and four others are successful writers – Annie Freud, Esther Freud, and Rose and Susie Boyt. Contrary to what has been written about anonymity, the identities of at least 168 sitters have been revealed in various interviews, commentaries and published information.

Thinking about the women who were closest to him for the longest duration, one realises how reticent they preferred to be, particularly Baroness Willoughby d'Eresby and Susanna Chancellor. Any biography of the artist that is written with the claim to analyse character or feelings is doomed.

The list of those he knew and affected would be enormous (and incomplete), the narratives lopsided, with anecdotes and memoirs exaggerating their author's familiarity. Freud's own, sharp recollections are both exciting and skewed. He recently spoke of how it amused him to hold the heads of schoolmates under water, but his occasional violence was countered by a precise, rather Germanic use of language and good manners.

An admitted control freak, who lived alone and liked to use the telephone but not give out his number, Freud kept relationships in separate compartments. He lived with the same aesthetic as that of his work – fine linen, worn leather, superb works of art (and a few cartoons), buddleia and bamboo in the overgrown garden and the residue of paint carried down from the studio. In this setting, he sustained until the end his ability to make portrayals of many of the people and animals who mattered to him (the one still on the easel, Portrait of a Hound), paintings that face-to-face are all-consuming and oddly liberating.