Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud paintings

The painter Lucian Freud, famed for his intricate and numinous nude portraits, has died aged 88 at his London home after an unspecified illness. His talent was recognised at an early age; his paintings divided critics and public alike. He painted an unflattering portrait of the Queen; in 2008, the sale of his picture of an overweight nude woman broke the record for a living artist, reaching £20.6 million. He was the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and brother of television and comic personality Clement Freud; his own family life was fraught.
Rembrandt would have done it. Primaily a portrait painter, he was “no society portraitist” said The Daily Telegraph. “His purpose was not to flatter, and the starkness of his images, many of them highly detailed nudes, have few precedents in the art of the human form.” Dividing critics and the public, for many, “Freud was a master of capturing the quintessence of a sitter, his paintings being, as he said, not like people but of people.” Others said his pictures didn’t “celebrate the differences between individuals, but their melancholy similarities”. His life became something of a spectacle: “[t]here was a quasi-theatrical streak in his personality and, though it was exaggerated by speculation, he gained a reputation as a rake, a snob and a Lothario.” Immensely exacting, he summoned back the 11th Duke of Devonshire after numerous sittings because he hadn’t got the shirt quite right. “’Rembrandt would have done it, and I’m damn well going to do it too,’ said Freud.”

One of his muses, Sue Tilley, said: “I found out last night on Twitter, bizarrely, and I did start crying. I haven’t seen him for a long time and he’s not really a close friend now but it’s a part of my life that’s kind of gone.”
Masterful eye for the unaesthetically pleasing. “Freud was born in Germany in 1922″, said Rob Hastings in The Independent, “but came to England in 1933 when his family fled the Nazis. He enlisted with the merchant navy during the Second World War, but was swiftly discharged after a serious bout of tonsillitis. After the war it was a trio of paintings of his first wife Kitty Garman [daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein] that established his career, though their divorce was not thought to have been caused by his masterful and uncompromising eye for the unaesthetically pleasing.

In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty. He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world,” he added.

Recent auctions have seen his works being highly adored; his portrayal of an overweight nude woman sleeping on a couch was sold in 2008 for 33.6 million dollars – a record for a work by a living artist.

“The vitality of [Freud''s] nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late 20th Century art,” the BBC quoted Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate gallery.

William Feaver, former Observer art critic who knew Freud for more than 40 years, said Freud “restored portraiture to its proper place”, by focusing on people from all walks of life and not just successful businessmen or their wives.

“He said everything he did was autobiographical and a self portrait. He was a witty, impulsive artist but generous with it,” he added.

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