Lucian Freud Essay

Lucian FreudFreud, Lucian (1922- ). German-born British painter. He was born inBerlin, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, came to England with his parentsin 1931, and acquired British nationality in 1939. His earliest lovewas drawing, and he began to work full time as an artist after beinginvalided out of the Merchant Navy in 1942. In 1951 his Interior atPaddington (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) won a prize at the Festivalof Britain, and since then he has built up a formidable reputation asone of the most powerful contemporary figurative painters. Portraitsand nudes are his specialities, often observed in arresting close-up.His early work was meticulously painted, so he has sometimes beendescribed as a `Realist’ (or rather absurdly as a Superrealist), butthe subjectivity and intensity of his work has always set him apartfrom the sober tradition characteristic of most British figurative artsince the Second World War. In his later work (from the late 1950s)his handling became much broader.

Normally I underplay facial expression when painting the figure,because I want expression to emerge through the body. I used to doonly heads, but came to feel that I relied too much on the face. Iwant the head, as it were, to be more like another limb.

– Lucian Freud

Freud was born in Berlin in December 1922, and came to England withhis family in 1933. He studied briefly at the Central School of Art inLondon and, to more effect, at Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School ofPainting and Drawing in Dedham. Following this, he served as amerchant seaman in an Atlantic convoy in 1941. His first soloexhibition, in 1944 at the Lefevre Gallery, featured the nowcelebrated The Painter’s Room 1944. In the s…

…h seeing. His attempt to demystify the human formwhilst recording the stories of his subjects marks a significantstance against the vacuity of much of contemporary art, which refusesto acknowledge even the existence of such stories and glorifies onlythe visible form. Even though he does not explore those stories, thefact that Freud records their presence within his subjects makes hiswork compellingly humane.

“My work is purely autobiographical,…It is about myself and mysurroundings. I work from people that interest me and that I careabout, in rooms that I know… When I look at a body it gives mechoice 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 ofrevelation about it. If something is true, it does more than strikeone as merely being so.” – Lucian Freud

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