Thursday, July 21, 2011

British painter Lucian Freud dies at 88

Lucian Freud, painters, artists
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.

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