Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:26 am


Lucian Freud in his studio in the photograph entitled Working at Night. Photograph: David Dawson

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:29 am


Visitors to Christies look at Woman Smiling. Photograph: Akira Suemori/AP

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:31 am


Kate Moss with Lucian Freud. Freud painted the fashion model when she was pregnant. Photograph: Stephen Butler /Rex Features

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:34 am


Naked Portrait 2002, a pianting of Kate Moss, at Christies. Photograph: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:37 am


Lucian Freud with Martin Gayford in his studio Photograph: David Dawson

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:39 am


The painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping is put on show at Christies. Photograph: Rex Features/Ray Tang

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:44 am


Lucian Freud painting the Queen in 2001. Photograph: David Dawson/Government Art Collection

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:48 am


Royal Treasures: A Golden Jubilee Celebration. Photograph: Courtesy of The Royal Collection

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:51 am


portrait of British painter Lucian Freud taken circa 1990. Photograph: David Montgomery/Getty Images

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:33 am

Lucian Freud: reflections of the artist

The looking glass was an important tool for Lucian Freud, but his work went far beyond mirror-play. As an exhibition of his portraits opens, his biographer and friend writes about his ruthless, confrontational realism

William Feaver

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 2 February 2012 12.50 GMT


Detail from Freud's Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau). Photograph: Courtesy of the Lucian Freud Archive

"I really used the mirror as a device for an interior on a small scale," he explained. "Always the same mirror, which I like and know." For Lucian Freud the knowing and liking were mutually vital and this five-foot Georgian overmantel mirror stayed with him. It had come down in the world by the time he first set eyes on it in 1943 in the hallway at 20 Delamere Terrace, in what was then slum Paddington. It became one of his few possessions in the upstairs flat there overlooking the canal, along with a stuffed zebra head.

Though not in fact always the one Freud used, it was until the mid-70s his main mirror for giving him odd angles, distancing and that slight sense of behind-the-glass isolation. For as their titles often indicate – Reflection (self-portrait), Painter working, reflection, his self-portraits were, of course, mirror images of a face that to him needed no introduction, the face that frowned commandingly or squinted with the effort of examining itself in profile. As he said: "Painting myself is more difficult than painting people, I've found. The psychological element is more difficult. Increasingly so."


Girl in a Dark Jacket, 1947, by Lucian Freud

The poet Nanos Valaoritis, who first encountered an intense young Freud in Greece in 1947, went further, describing him as a combined dramaturge and reflector. "He is a sort of mirror. L invents a personality for people, which he imposes upon them by the force of conviction and concentration." That's putting it a bit strong; though, true enough, the paintings from the late 40s of Kitty Epstein, Freud's huge-eyed first wife, show her sitting to order, as it were, first bedazzled then shrinking.

The self-portraitist's mirror remained to hand. He took it from painting place to painting place, from Paddington to Maida Vale. It ended up in the kitchen of the top-floor flat in Holland Park that served as his studio until the final years. The one painting in which it actually features, frame and all, is Small interior (self portrait), begun in 1968 and completed three or four years later, in which it looks as though he's dancing attendance on it: his old friend the mirror. Diminutive in the reflection, contemplating his next brush move, the painter seems torn between doing this little picture or getting on with what was to become Large interior, Paddington 1968-9 (shown, barely begun, on an easel beside him) or, possibly, perfecting the glossiness of the leaves in the magnificent Interior with plant, reflection listening (self-portrait), 1967-8. Whatever. This is Freud giving himself pause. Just think: here's a representation of a reflection involving the representation of a reflection of his largest painting for years in which a resentful child, his daughter Ib, lies planted under a spreading zimmerlinde on a paint-smudged floor. Ostensibly a straightforward studio scene, Small interior compresses possibilities.

The complications in a Freud involve rather more than mirror-play. They aren't to do with symbolism (which he loathed as a metier) or surreality (why be clever-clever?); for him a fascination with appearances was motivation enough. He saw himself in a hand mirror wedged into the frames of a sash window. He peered at a morning-after acquisition: a ripe black eye. Love came into it: the intentness of love and the abeyance of love. Hotel Bedroom, 1954, shows him holed up with Caroline Blackwood, the newly-weds not enjoying their poky, shared accommodation in the Hotel La Louisiane, rue de Seine, she shivering in bed, he standing over her, his darkening presence transposed from the image he studied in the bevelled mirror on an unseen wardrobe door. Caroline complained about being made to look older than she was, but the bitten nails and the little finger lodged on her lower lip are telling. The marriage was soon over.

"Making a picture," Matisse said, "would seem as logical as building a house, if one worked on sound principles. One should not bother about the human side. Either one has it or one hasn't. If one has it, it colours the work in spite of everything."

For Freud there was no question but that making paintings came first. Yet, as one who lived by urges, attractions were there to be sprung. Instinct was foremost at all times. "The eyes give the messages to the brain," he once said to me, "and not all of these, by any means, come out in the form of speech. (I mean the information gathered, and the subsequent ideas.) The painter looking at a person thinks things that the other person jolly well doesn't want thought about them, and makes guesses which are really impertinent. It's to do with the inherent life in people." The human side and, wider, the animal side, was for him the main event. Painting one-to-one he had the advantage of being the initiator with work to do, thus wholly in charge. With two people or more he faced complication, distraction possibly, and never more so than in the early 80s, when he had the idea of restaging a Watteau.

He knew the original painting – Pierrot Content, featuring the commedia character seated in a glade with frivolous companions – only in reproduction. His version, enormous in comparison, is a sky-lit tableau set in what was, at that time, his quite recently converted Holland Park studio. "I wanted the setting to be a slightly deliberate setting," he said. "It's the nearest thing I have ever come to casting people rather than painting them, but they're still portraits, really. They are also characters. A slight bit of role-playing they are doing, but I didn't try and forget who they were. In the end they are just there." He showed them his photograph of the Watteau and told them that he wanted something similar.


Man with a Feather (Self-portrait), 1943, Lucian Freud Photograph: © Lucian Freud achive

A situation is presented. "Like the artless shots in Bunuel which are necessary to set up the rest," he suggested. There his characters sit, "slightly costumey", four on a bed, the light falling evenly on them, the scent of the verbena mingling, we may deduce, with the whiff of paint. They include a daughter and two girlfriends from different times. "I didn't want to make too much about the unity, the fact that people are sitting next to each other, know each other very well, not at all, or slightly. I'm interested in all that aspect of things: the people and to what degree they are affected by being near each other (that's one reason I like Franz Hals so much); not cold-shouldered but each wrapped up in themselves."

When Large Interior W11 (after Watteau) went on show at Agnew's in 1983 more than one reviewer took it to be a study of bohemian folk living in squalor. "A sordid room … peeling walls, a nasty sink and the sort of all-too visible plumbing the English are prone to accept," Terence Mullaly wrote in the Telegraph, adding: "Lucian Freud has always seemed to me grossly overrated and this picture confirms my opinion." He wasn't alone in this; disapproval revolved around the raw plaster and fittings and zoomed in on the awkwardness of the posed figures, so obviously unused to sitting together.

Freud proceeded by dint of ruthlessness, pressing on where others settled. Failures were ripped. "Sometimes things that go wrong with me are through concentration (like when you forget to put your trousers on)." Successes were downright. "Nothing tentative." Working his way across Leigh Bowery's bare back, he approached those wide areas of pallid skin like Alps as yet unsurmounted. "Though I hope to strain the onlooker's sensibilities what I'm really interested in is outraging my own." Confrontational in his realism he treated everything, buttercups, babies, a monarch even or a dozing whippet, floorboards and all, as the stimuli whereby observation catches hold. Such realism is the tap root of art, perpetually modern.

In that he insisted that everything he drew or painted was a portrait, Freud recognised no distinction between genres. The National Portrait Gallery's decision to restrict its otherwise splendid great exhibition to human portraits only is unimaginative though not unreasonable. Freud relished the prospect of having retrospectives, but in the event found them disconcerting. When he went one Sunday morning 10 years ago to check out the hang of his Tate retrospective, he pronounced himself pleased, but then took me to one side. There was just one thing, he felt. "William, would you mind if we put my hand mirror self-portrait next to that small one of my mother?" Easily done and, sure enough, they went well together. "Oh, thanks awfully," he said.

He didn't return to look through his assembled work more than a few times. It really depressed him, he explained, to see so many portraits of people he'd known and liked and who were now dead.

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:34 pm

David Dawson: 'Lucian chose people who were punctual'

Lucian Freud's assistant, frequent model and friend David Dawson talks about their 20-year working relationship

Tim Adams

The Observer, Sunday 12 February 2012


Eli and David, 2005-06, an earlier portrait of Dawson and his whippet. Photograph: Courtesy of the Lucian Freud Archive

David Dawson was Lucian Freud's assistant, frequent model and friend for the last two decades of his life. Freud was working on a portrait of Dawson at the time of his death. Dawson's photographs captured the artist at work and play...


Having been working towards the National Portrait Gallery show in the months since Freud died, it must feel like another ending or a closure now it has opened?

That's true, it does. But then I have spent the last two weeks hanging Lucian's exhibition every day, and it was just amazing having all the paintings together again in one place. It has been liberating, empowering almost in that way, a proper memorial.


If he had lived to see it, would he have loved looking back at all that work?

He would have enjoyed the light side of it, seeing it in the papers, all that. He would have had a last look at the hang itself, just to make sure he didn't want to change anything. But I imagine he would mostly have been in his studio wanting to get on with the work ahead of him. He wasn't one for looking back.


The last, unfinished painting, The Hound, of you and your whippet Eli seems an appropriate place to end, given your long friendship and working relationship. Did he regret not completing it?

He was pushing all the way to finish it for this show. He never worried about dying. He would come into the studio every day up until about the last two weeks, and try to paint, even just for half an hour, before he got too tired.


He was working on that last portrait for four years. Did it feel different from your previous experiences as a sitter, more of a farewell?

I was only aware, and he was perhaps only aware, in the last six weeks that it might not get finished. I had done six or seven portraits with him; this one was certainly the most relaxed. Though it is not finished, it's quite resolved, I think. It's in there because it's a very good painting, not because it's the last one.


I'm sure it was a privilege to be his friend, did it ever feel a burden?

Never a burden, but certainly a commitment. Even though Lucian said he was not a creature of habit, the one thing he did do every single day of his life was get into the studio every morning. In our 20 or so years he did not miss a day, literally. And I had to be there first thing every morning, seven days a week, to prepare it for him.


The studio was a very private, almost sacred space for him?

Very, very private. I would never disturb him when people were sitting. No one ever casually came in and out. The door was closed to the world.


Did he tell you when you could take photographs and when not?

No, it was always me deciding. We had that trust. I never wanted to keep a diary: it didn't feel right to go home and then write about what I had done that morning. So the pictures were a visual record of it, an honest record of our relationship.

You captured very memorably that extraordinary occasion of him painting the Queen. Did they hit it off?

They did seem to get on extremely well. I would go in every morning and set up the easel and wait for her majesty to arrive. One day I just asked if she wouldn't mind me taking a picture and she said: "Of course, it might be a little piece of history."...


Did he treat her any differently from his other subjects, the benefits supervisor, say?

No. Lots of amazing people sat for him, from aristocracy to fashion models. And everyone was treated exactly the same. If he had an overriding quality with people, I would say it was his sense of fairness.


How did he choose who to paint?

Well, he had a very clear eye for what he wanted and he would grab at that. One of the key things was the sense that the people could be trusted to be reliable, and punctual.


What happened if subjects were late?

It really upset him. He was so charged up and ready to paint. iIf the person wasn't there, that was the most emotive he got. If someone came late they were told to "fuck off home" immediately, and that was that.

Were other painters ever invited into the studio?

No, it made him incredibly nervous to have anyone, particularly painters, in the studio if the paintings were half finished – he was jumpy about that. Frank Auerbach came, but he would only look at paintings when they were just about finished. Before Frank, Francis Bacon filled that role.

Some of the more moving paintings are those of his [14] children. Did he approach them with trepidation?

No, the children were just sitters like anyone else. Biology was never very important to him in the studio.


What is the studio like now?

It is exactly as it was when he died. It would be nice to think it can stay like that. Nothing has been decided yet, but I hope so.


Your own show, in Chichester, as well as photos includes paintings you made during the time you worked with Freud, but they don't reflect that relationship. Were you never tempted to paint him?

Paint Lucian? No. It would be too, too hard. A portrait of Lucian? I wouldn't have known know where to begin.

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:05 pm

Peter Duggan's Artoons: Lucian Freud

In cartoonist Peter Duggan's latest take on art history, he imagines how Freud's portrait of the Queen might have looked if it had been called Her Majesty Sleeping

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 March 2012 12.22 BST


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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:59 pm

Early portraits by Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud fans are in for a surprise at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert's new exhibition, which runs until December. The show features some of Freud's earliest work, dating from 1940-1958, and includes portraits of Freud's fellow artists and his first wife. Take a look at seven of the portraits and find out more about the exhibition from its curator - and Freud's model - David Dawson

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 8 October 2008 15.38 BST

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:01 pm


Stephen Spender, 1940.
Oil on canvas
Lucian Freud is now 85 and is still working. A new exhibition in London looks back some seven decades to the first years of his career. At the age of just 17, Freud painted poet and writer Stephen Spender© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:03 pm


Gerald Wilde, 1943
Oil on panel
Freud characterised his early work as the product of 'maximum observation', achieved 'by staring at my subject matter and examining it closely' - a technique he moved away from over the following decade. Gerald Wilde (1905-86) was an established London artist whose dark work was inspired by the blitz© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:06 pm


Man with Arms Folded, 1944
Conté and chalk on brown paper
The man depicted here is the 16-year-old Michael Wishart, son of Freud's friend and subject Lorna Wishart, who furnished him not only with live sitters, but also with a dead heron (subject of another painting in the exhibition) and a stuffed zebra, which features in various early works© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:09 pm


Portrait of a Man, 1946
Oil on canvas
This work depicts John Craxton, a fellow painter who shared rooms with Freud in St John's Wood in the early 1940s. They spent time together in Paris in 1946, and spent the end of that summer painting in Greece, where this canvas was completed, hence the visible sunburn. Craxton says that this was the time when Freud 'made some of his most limpid and luminous paintings'© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:12 pm


Girl in a Dark Jacket, 1947
Oil on panel
Kitty Garman, daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein and niece of Lorna Wishart, was Freud's first wife. This was his first portrait of her, completed the year before their marriage© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:16 pm


Man at Night (Self-portrait), 1947-48
Pen, ink and conté
Although a self-portrait, this drawing is very similar to a sketch of a character named Arvid from a series of Freud's illustrations, submitted to accompany the story Flyda of the Seas, by Princess Marie Bonaparte, a patron of Freud and a prominent psychoanalyst. The illustrations were rejected by the publisher© Lucian Freud

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Re: Lucian Freud's flesh decomposes

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:19 pm


Girl in a Blanket, 1952
Oil on canvas
Henrietta Moraes was Freud's lover when she posed for this work. She recalled watching 'the contorted figures of meths drinkers creep past the cafe window' on the street below while sitting. Moraes was also painted frequently by Francis Bacon in the same period© Lucian Freud

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