Lucian Freud: Wikis


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Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud
Born 8 December 1922 (1922-12-08) (age 87)
Berlin, Germany
Nationality British1 German2 Austrian3
Field painting
Training Central School of Art, London, East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, Dedham, Essex, Goldsmiths College, London
Movement Realism, Expressionism, Surrealism

Lucian Michael Freud, OM, CH (born 8 December 1922) is a British painter of German origin.


Early life and family

He is the son of Jewish parents Ernst Ludwig Freud, an architect, and Lucie née Brasch. He is the grandson of Sigmund Freud, brother of the late broadcaster, writer and politician Clement Raphael Freud and of Stephan Gabriel Freud, and uncle of radio and television broadcaster Emma Freud.

Freud and his family moved to England in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism, and became British citizens in 1939. During this period he attended Dartington Hall school in Totnes, Devon, and later Bryanston School.

Early career

Freud briefly studied at the Central School of Art in London then, with greater success, at Cedric Morris' East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham, and also at Goldsmiths College - University of London from 1942-3. He served as a merchant seaman in an Atlantic convoy in 1941 before being invalided out of service in 1942. In 1943, Tambimuttu, the Ceylonese editor, commissioned the young artist to illustrate a book of poems by Nicholas Moore entitled "The Glass Tower". It was published the following year by Editions Poetry London and comprised, among other drawings, a stuffed zebra (-cum-unicorn) and a palm tree. Both subjects reappeared in The Painter's Room on display at Freud's first solo exhibition in 1944 at the Alex Reid & Lefevre Gallery. In the summer of 1946, he travelled to Paris before continuing to Greece for several months. Since then he has lived and worked in London.

Change in style

The Painter's Room, 1944, private collection.

Freud's early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions. These works are usually painted with relatively thin paint, but from the 1950s he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing a thicker 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)[1]. 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).[2] He has a special passion for horses, having enjoyed riding at school in Darlington, where he sometimes even slept in the stables.[3] His portraits solely of horses include Grey Gelding (2003), Skewbald Mare (2004), and Mare Eating Hay (2006).

Freud's subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. To quote the artist: "The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really."

Later career

Girl with a white dog, 1951 - 1952, Tate Gallery The subject is Freud's first wife, Kitty (Kathleen) Garman, the daughter of Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman.

"I paint people," Freud has said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud has 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. Freud is one of the best known British artists working in a traditional representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989.[4]

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.

After Cézanne, 1999 - 2000, National Gallery of Australia.

Lucian Freud was a visiting tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art of University College London from 1949-54.

Although Freud is internationally acknowledged as one of the most important artists working today, there have been few opportunities to see his paintings and etchings in Britain. 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[5]. This was followed most notably 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 significant 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".[6] 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. The etchings allow viewers to get a closer and more detailed look at the artist's creative process. Freud's works sometimes involve the same person and similar compositions, since his works are about getting to know the subject, prompting him to use the same person more than once when he feels there is more he can learn from him or her physically, mentally, or emotionally.[7]

In May 2008, his 1995 portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping was sold by 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.[8]

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.[9]

Personal life

Freud is rumoured to have up to 40 illegitimate children[10], although this is generally accepted as an exaggeration. After an affair with Lorna Garman, he went on to marry her niece Kitty (daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein and socialite Kathleen Garman) in 1948. After four years and the birth of two daughters, Annie and Annabel, their marriage ended when he began an affair with Lady Caroline Blackwood, a society girl and writer. They married in 1953. However, the marriage was dissolved in Mexico in 1958. He has children by Bernardine Coverley (fashion designer Bella Freud and writer Esther Freud), Suzy Boyt (5 children: Ali, Rose Boyt, Isobel, and Susie Boyt), and Katherine Margaret McAdam (4 children), Paul, Lucy, David and Jane McAdam Freud who is also an artist.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Image 'Naked Man With Rat'"
  2. ^ "Image 'Double Portrait'"
  3. ^ Gayford, Martin. "Freud's Animals", Apollo (magazine), 2006-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-06-05.
  4. ^ Button, Virginia. "The Turner Prize: Twenty Years". Tate Online, 2003. Retrieved on 28 March 2007.
  5. ^ Richard Calvocoressi, Lucian Freud: Early Works, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 1997. ISBN 0-903598-663
  6. ^ "Freud royal portrait divides critics" BBC News (December 21, 2001). Retrieved on February 26, 2008.
  7. ^ Robert Ayers (December 18, 2007). "Curator’s Voice: Starr Figura on Lucian Freud’s Etchings". ARTINFO. Retrieved 2008-04-23.  
  8. ^ "Freud work sets new world record". BBC News Online. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  
  9. ^ "Revealed: young Freud's clash with art establishment - Newly released letters shed light on Venice Biennale feud". The Independent. 8 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-08.  
  10. ^ Freud the Lothario, Simon Edge, The Daily Express, Friday May 16, 2008.

Further reading

  • Calvocoressi, Richard (1997). Early Works: Lucian Freud. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.   ISBN 0-903598-663
  • Feaver, William (1996). Lucian Freud: Paintings and Etchings. Abbot Hall Art Gallery.   ISBN 0-9503335-7-3
  • Feaver, William (2002). Lucian Freud. Tate.   ISBN 0-8109-6267-5
  • Gowing, Lawrence (1982). Lucian Freud. Thames & Hudson.   ISBN 0-500-09154-4
  • Gruen, John (1991). The Artist Observed: 28 Interviews with Contemporary Artists. a cappella books.   ISBN 1-55652-103-0
  • Hughes, Robert (1997). Lucian Freud, revised edition. Thames & Hudson.   ISBN 0-500-27535-1

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Lucian Freud, OM, CH (born 1922-12-08) is a British painter and printmaker. He was born in Berlin, Germany and is the grandson of psychotherapist Sigmund Freud and brother of politician and writer Clement Freud.


  • I always felt that my work hadn't much to do with art; my admirations for other art had very little room to show themselves in my work because I hoped that if I concentrated enough the intensity of scrutiny alone would force life into the pictures. I ignored the fact that art, after all, derives from art. Now I realize that this is the case.
    • Said in conversation with Robert Hughes and quoted in Hughes' Lucian Freud: Paintings (1987) ISBN 0-500-27535-1, p.14
  • My colour has no symbolic function whatever. I don't want any colour to be noticeable. I want the colour to be the colour of life, so that you would notice it as being irregular if it changed. I don't want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent. I don't want people to say, "Oh, what was that red or that blue picture of yours, I've forgotten what it was."
    • Lucian Freud: Paintings (1987), p. 16
  • When I look at a body I know it gives me choices of what to put in a painting; what will suit me and what won't. There is a distinction between fact and truth. Truth has an element of revelation about it. If something is true, it does more than strike one as merely being so.
    • Lucian Freud: Paintings (1987), p. 20
  • I am only interested in painting the actual person; in doing a painting of them, not in using them to some ulterior end of art. For me, to use someone doing something not native to them would be wrong.
    • Lucian Freud: Paintings (1987), p. 20
    • Words cited by Hughes as written by Freud on a wall in his studio.
    • Lucian Freud: Paintings (1987), p. 22
  • I paint people not because of what they are like... but how they happen to be.
    • "A Queen of many colours," interview with Martin Gayford, Daily Telegraph, (2006-04-20), p. 3


  • I paint what I see, not what you hope that I see.

External links

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