Thursday, July 21, 2011

Deceased--Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud
December 8th, 1922 to July 20th, 2011

Lucian Freud at 25 in 1947.

Girl With A Kitten

A Painter

"British painter Lucian Freud dies at 88"

Freud, whose works are highly prized by collectors, created subjects in anguished, anti-erotic poses. He used impasto, a technique involving the thick application of paint, to create his highly textured portraits.


David Ng

July 22nd, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Lucian Freud, a British artist who gained fame for his intense and deeply textural nude paintings, has died. He was 88.

Freud, the grandson of the pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, died Wednesday at his home in London following an illness, according to a representative for his New York dealer, William Acquavella.

The artist's best-known works feature subjects in anguished, anti-erotic poses, their psychology externalized onto their fleshy bodies. He liked to use impasto, a technique involving the thick application of paint, to create his highly textured portraits.

"I want paint to work as flesh," he once said. "As far as I am concerned, the paint is the person."

During his long career, Freud made portraits of a number of public figures. He once painted supermodel Kate Moss naked and visibly pregnant. He reportedly engaged in animated negotiations with Buckingham Palace to create his 2001 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, who sat fully clothed. The royal painting divided the public, with some criticizing it as glum and depressing.

Freud's paintings are highly prized among museums and collectors who have been willing to pay large sums for them. In 2008, his nude portrait of a heavy-set civil servant reclining on a sofa, "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping," sold for $33.6 million at a Christie's auction, a record figure at the time.

"Unlike many artists, his late works were among his most significant contributions," Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, said Thursday. "He got better, more ambitious and youthful. He was a very young elder statesman."

Born in Berlin in 1922, Freud was one of three sons of Austrian architect Ernst Freud and his German wife, Lucie. The family fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and eventually settled in London. Freud became a British citizen in 1939. As a boy, he studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London and the East Anglian School of Drawing and Painting. During World War II, the budding artist served with the British Merchant Navy.

Freud showed an early interest in a kind of portraiture that could strip away artifice and reveal the essence of his subjects. His first paintings were characterized by a spare, flat and emotionally uninflected style.

He gained attention for a series of paintings of his first wife, Kitty Garman, including a portrait titled "Girl with a White Dog," in which she exposes a breast while a canine dozes on her lap.

Though he is often described as a realist, Freud's work contains elements of other schools, including surrealism. One of his biggest influences was the painter Francis Bacon, another titan of the postwar art world, who became Freud's friend and helped to push his work in a more expressionist direction.

By the late '50s, Freud had embarked on what would become his signature style of textured nude paintings.

He often turned his gaze on himself. In several unflattering self-portraits, Freud painted himself in various states of undress, his aging body exposed. He frequently painted friends and close associates, and even created a nude portrait of his daughter Bella, a noted fashion designer.

"He was an extremely brave painter in the way he confronted his figures. He brought a whole new meaning to figurative painting and was extremely influential on the generations that followed," said Gretchen Berggruen, a co-owner of the John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco.

A major exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington in 1987 helped boost Freud's reputation in the United States. In 1993 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held a retrospective of his work.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown L.A. held a retrospective in 2003 that was organized by the Tate Britain. The exhibition featured more than 100 paintings, drawings and prints, as well as new pieces.

"Freud is in reality a fine painter with a very narrow repertoire," Times art critic Christopher Knight wrote in his review of the show. Comparing him to artist Stanley Spencer, an earlier practitioner of nude portraiture, Knight wrote that "Freud's art is rarely so complex, but sometimes it does have the capacity to beguile."

Freud's personal life was a subject of much scrutiny and speculation. After his divorce from Garman, Freud was married for several years to Caroline Blackwood before they divorced. He fathered children from a number of relationships. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

By some accounts a prickly personality, Freud reportedly did not get along with his brother Clement, the British TV personality who died in 2009.

"In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty," his art dealer, Acquavella, said in a statement. "He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world."

"Lucian Freud, Adept Portraiture Artist, Dies at 88"


William Grimes

July 21st, 2011

The New York Times

Lucian Freud, whose stark and revealing paintings of friends and intimates, splayed nude in his studio, recast the art of portraiture and offered a new approach to figurative art, died on Wednesday night at his home in London. He was 88.

He died following a brief illness, said William Acquavella of Acquavella Galleries, Mr. Freud’s dealer.

Mr. Freud, a grandson of Sigmund Freud and a brother of the British television personality Clement Freud, was already an important figure in the small London art world when, in the immediate postwar years, he embarked on a series of portraits that established him as a potent new voice in figurative art.

In paintings like “Girl With Roses” (1947-48) and “Girl With a White Dog” (1951-52), he put the pictorial language of traditional European painting in the service of an anti-romantic, confrontational style of portraiture that stripped bare the sitter’s social facade. Ordinary people — many of them his friends and intimates — stared wide-eyed from the canvas, vulnerable to the artist’s ruthless inspection.

From the late 1950s, when he began using a stiffer brush and moving paint in great swaths around the canvas, Mr. Freud’s nudes took on a new fleshiness and mass. His subjects, pushed to the limit in exhausting extended sessions, day after day, dropped their defenses and opened up. The faces showed fatigue, distress, torpor.

The flesh was mottled, lumpy and, in the case of his 1990s portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery and the phenomenally obese civil servant Sue Tilley, shockingly abundant.

The relationship between sitter and painter, in his work, overturned traditional portraiture. It was “nearer to the classic relationship of the 20th century: that between interrogator and interrogated,” the art critic John Russell wrote in “Private View,” his survey of the London art scene in the 1960s.

William Feaver, a British critic who organized a Freud retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002, said: “Freud has generated a life’s worth of genuinely new painting that sits obstinately across the path of those lesser painters who get by on less. He always pressed to extremes, carrying on further than one would think necessary and rarely letting anything go before it became disconcerting.”

Lucian Michael Freud was born in Berlin on Dec. 8, 1922, and grew up in a wealthy neighborhood near the Tiergarten. His father, Ernst L. Freud, an architect who was Sigmund Freud’s youngest son, married Lucie Brasch, the heiress to a timber fortune, and the family enjoyed summers on the North Sea and visits to a family estate near Cottbus.

In 1933, after Hitler came to power, the Freuds moved to London, where Lucian attended progressive schools but showed little academic promise. He was more interested in horses than in his studies, and entertained thoughts of becoming a jockey.

In 1938, he was expelled from Bryanston, in Dorset, after dropping his trousers on a dare on a street in Bournemouth. But his sandstone sculpture of a horse earned him entry into the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He left there after a year to enroll in the East Anglian School of Drawing and Painting in Dedham, where he studied with the painter Cedric Morris. While it is true that the school burned to the ground while he was there, the often repeated story that Mr. Freud accidentally started the fire with a discarded cigarette seems unlikely.

In 1941, hoping to make his way to New York, Mr. Freud enlisted in the Merchant Navy, where he served on a convoy ship crossing the Atlantic. He got no nearer to New York than Halifax, Nova Scotia, and after returning to Liverpool developed tonsillitis and was given a medical discharge from the service.

Mr. Freud was a bohemian of the old school. He set up his studios in squalid neighborhoods, developed a Byronic reputation as a rake and gambled recklessly (“debit stimulates me,” he once said). In 1948, he married Kitty Garman, the daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein, whom he depicted in several portraits, notably “Girl With Roses,” “Girl With a Kitten” (1947) and “Girl With a White Dog” (1950-51). That marriage ended in divorce, as did his second marriage, to Lady Caroline Blackwood. He is survived by many children from his first marriage and from a series of romantic relationships.

His early work, often with an implied narrative, was strongly influenced by the German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) painters like Georg Grosz and Otto Dix, although his influences reached back to Albrecht Dürer and the Flemish masters like Hans Memling.

On occasion he ventured into Surrealist territory. In “The Painter’s Room” (1943), a zebra with red and yellow stripes pokes its head through the window of a studio furnished with a palm tree and sofa. A top hat sits on the floor.

Mr. Freud later rejected Surrealism with something like contempt. “I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me,” he told the art critic Robert Hughes. “That would be a pointless lie, a mere bit of artfulness.”

A decisive influence was Francis Bacon, a fellow artist at the 1954 Venice Biennale and the subject of one of his most famous works, a head painted in oil on copper in 1952. Bacon’s free, daring brushwork led Mr. Freud to abandon the linear, thinly painted portraits of the 1940s and move toward the brushy, searching portrait style of his mature work, with its severely muted palette of browns and yellows.

“Full, saturated colors have an emotional significance that I want to avoid,” he once said. To the artist and Freud biographer Lawrence Gowing, he said, “For me the paint is the person.” Mr. Freud’s dingy studio became his artistic universe, a grim theater in which his subjects, stripped bare and therefore unidentifiable by class, thrust into contorted positions, submitted to the artist’s unblinking, merciless inspection.

The sense of the artist-model relationship is suggested by “Reflection With Two Children,” a 1965 self-portrait showing Mr. Freud seen from below, the vantage point of a dog looking at its master. Two children, almost miniature in scale, are shunted to the side of the canvas. A glaring light overhead contributes to the impression of the artist as all-powerful inquisitor.

His female subjects in particular seemed not just nude but obtrusively naked. Mr. Freud pushed this effect so far, Mr. Russell once noted “that we sometimes wonder if we have any right to be there.” By contrast, his horses and dogs, like his whippets Pluto and Eli, were evoked with tender solicitude.

“I’ve got a strong autobiographical bias,” he told Mr. Feaver, the British critic. “My work is entirely about myself and my surroundings.”

On rare occasions Mr. Freud took on something akin to official portraits. He painted the collector Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, fully clothed, in “Man in a Chair” (1985). His stern 2001 portrait of Queen Elizabeth, showing the royal head topped by the Diamond Diadem, divided the critics and public.

Some critics hailed the picture as bold, uncompromising and truthful. Arthur Morrison, the arts editor of The Times of London, wrote, “The chin has what can only be described as a six-o’clock shadow, and the neck would not disgrace a rugby prop forward.” The newspaper’s royal photographer said Mr. Freud should be thrown into the Tower of London.

These were deviations. Much more in the Freud vein was his portrait of a man sprawled on a couch holding a dormant rat (“Naked Man With Rat,” 1977-78). The animal’s tail, draped across the model’s left thigh, nearly makes contact with his genitals, producing an ineffably creepy effect.

Mr. Freud remained deeply unfashionable in the United States for many decades, but in 1987 the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington exhibited his work in a show that no New York museum would take on. This was a watershed event. Mr. Hughes proclaimed him “the greatest living realist painter,” and a Freud cult soon developed. In 1993 the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized a retrospective of his work.

“It is an attempt at a record,” Mr. Freud said, describing his work on the occasion of his retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in 1974. “ I work from the people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know.”

"Lucian Freud paints new muse - artist one third of his age"

Lucian Freud has a new muse – an artist who is less than a third his age.


Stephen Adams

March 31st, 2009

The Telegraph

The British painter, 86, whose former subjects include Jerry Hall, Kate Moss and benefits supervisor Sue Tilley, is close to finishing a nude of 25-year-old Perienne Christian.

The slim brunette is herself a painter, who studied at Bath Spa College of Arts and then The Prince's Drawing School in London.

She was introduced to Freud in January last year by her tutor Catherine Goodman, after he said he was looking for a model.

She said: "My tutor thought that I might fit the bill."

Soon afterwards Christian met him for breakfast and later that day his assistant informed her Freud wanted her to start.

She said she had been modelling for him up to three times a week for up to five hours a time.

"It has taught me about dedication," she said. "It is very inspiring to be around somebody who is such a brilliant painter and is so dedicated to his craft."

But Christian, who has a boyfriend, stressed that their relationship was purely professional.

Freud's latest work is bound to fetch millions.

Last May his painting of plump Jobcentre worker Sue Tilley naked on a sofa, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold at Christie's in New York for $33.6m (£17.2m at the time). That broke the world record for a painting by a living artist.

Christian has painted a rival self-portrait that appears on her own website, although it would probably sell for considerably less than his version.

She currently has an exhibition at the RK Burt Gallery near Tate Modern in Southwark with works priced up to a more modest £1,000.

Lucian Freud [Wikipedia]

WebMuseum: Freud, Lucian

Perienne Christian

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