Lucian Frued was one of the many people who influenced my work since I began painting in the late 90’s. I was privileged to see a retrospective of his work in Britain a few years back and I was/continue to be stunned ever since. He lived a great life and left an amazing body of work for generations to admire and learn from. Here are a few images and his bio from wikipedia.
Lucian Michael Freud, OM, CH (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
Freud’s early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions. These works were usually created with thin layers of paint.
From the 1950s he began to work in portraiture, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing impasto. With this technique, he would often clean his brush after each stroke. The colours in these paintings are typically muted.
Freud’s portraits often depict only the sitter, sometimes sprawled naked on the floor or on a bed or alternatively juxtaposed with something else, as in Girl With a White Dog (1951–52) and Naked Man With Rat (1977–78). The use of animals in his compositions is widespread, and often features pet and owner. Other examples of portraits with both animals and people in Freud’s work include Guy and Speck (1980–81), Eli and David (2005–06) and Double Portrait (1985–86). He had a special passion for horses, having enjoyed riding at school in Dartington, where he sometimes slept in the stables. His portraits solely of horses include Grey Gelding (2003), Skewbald Mare (2004), and Mare Eating Hay (2006).
Freud’s subjects were often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. He said, “The subject matter is autobiographical, it’s all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really. In the 1970s Freud spent 4,000 hours on a series of paintings of his mother, about which art historian Lawrence Gowing observed “it is more than 300 years since a painter showed as directly and as visually his relationship with his mother. And that was Rembrandt.”
In art critic Martin Gayford’s 2010 book, Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, Gayford chronicled the forty days he spent with Lucian Freud while sitting for his portrait. Gayford surmised that Freud sought to capture his model’s individuality by, as Gayford named it, his “omnivorous” gaze. Gayford also mentions that his final portrait seemed to “reveal secrets—ageing, ugliness, faults—that I imagine…I am hiding from the world…” – suggesting how sharp and penetrating Freud’s gaze is.
“I paint people,” Freud said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.” Freud painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Towards the end of his life he did a nude portrait of model Kate Moss. Freud was one of the best known British artists working in a representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989.
His painting After Cézanne, which is notable because of its unusual shape, was bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $7.4 million. The top left section of this painting has been ‘grafted’ on to the main section below, and closer inspection reveals a horizontal line where these two sections were joined.
In 1996, Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal mounted a major exhibition of 27 paintings and thirteen etchings, covering the whole period of Freud’s working life to date. The following year the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art presented “Lucian Freud: Early Works”. The exhibition comprised around 30 drawings and paintings done between 1940 and 1945. This was followed by a large retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002. During a period from May 2000 to December 2001, Freud painted Queen Elizabeth II. There was criticism of this portrayal of the Queen in some sections of the British media. The highest selling tabloid newspaper, The Sun, was particularly condemnatory, describing the portrait as “a travesty”. In 2005 a retrospective of Freud’s work was held at the Museo Correr in Venice scheduled to coincide with the Biennale. In late 2007, a collection of Freud’s etchings titled “Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings” went on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
In May 2008, his 1995 portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping was sold at auction by Christie’s in New York City for $33.6 million, setting a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.
In November 2008, letters written by Freud were obtained by The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act. They detail his bitter dispute with some of the most powerful figures in the art world after he was asked to represent Britain at the 1954 Venice Biennale, the world’s leading contemporary art exhibition. The publicity-shy portrait painter locked horns with gallery officials after a selection committee rebuffed his suggestions of works to show in Italy. The article includes a copy of the letter written by Freud to the British Council complaining about the selection process.