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Synopsis: “The greatest living realist painter” is how Robert Hughes described Lucian Freud in 1998. He is probably most famous as a portraitist, a portraitist above all of nudes. Stripped of their clothes, his sitters—mostly friends or family members—are revealed in all their vulnerability. Their gorgeously painted flesh is alive. As Freud himself has said of his nudes, “I used to leave the face to the last. I wanted the expression to be in the body. The head must be just another limb.”
Freud has always worked outside the conventions—academic as well as modernist—of contemporary art. However, his vision reflects the anguish of his time as powerfully as the work of his close friend, the late Francis Bacon, once did. Where Freud triumphs is in his ability to get inside his sitters: not to analyze them, as his grandfather did, but to bring them to sentient life in paint.
Although he works very slowly—most portraits take months to finish—Freud has spent the last ten years (since the publication of the 1996 monograph Lucian Freud) painting day after day, usually from 8 a.m. until midnight. The result has been a corpus of great new works, which reveal him to be the only heir today of Rembrandt, Courbet, and Cézanne.
The most daring of Freud’s recent portraits is a full-length painting of Andrew Parker-Bowles—a new, subtly satirical take on the grand manner that stretches back through van Dyck to Titian. Like Goya, Freud is without reverence. With his portrait of the Queen, you feel the canvas is a window through which Her Majesty is bursting, diadem and all. Freud has also indulged his passion for animals in some wonderfully perceptive studies of horses and his whippet, Pluto. And he has proved to be an acute observer of nature in obsessively meticulous but wonderfully fresh paintings and engravings of the buddleia bush in his garden. This book is a dazzling record of a powerful late period by our last great painter.
Lucian Freud was born in Berlin in 1922, the son of the architect Ernst Freud and the grandson of Sigmund Freud. His family moved to England in 1933. His work has been exhibited in major museums around the world with retrospectives at the Tate Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He lives in London.
About the Author: Lucian Freud was born in Berlin in 1922. He is the grandson of Sigmund Freud. His work has been recognised and exhibited since 1944. He has been exhibited in the major museums worldwide. His recent shows include a retrospective at the Tate, an exhibition on Constable which he selected for the Grand Palais in Paris and a show at the Wallace Collection, London. He will be shown at the next Venice Biennale. Sebastian Smee comes from Sydney but until recently he was one of the art critics for the Daily Telegraph. He has now returned to write for a Sydney newspaper and to cover the international art scene.
Title: Lucian Freud: 1996-2005
Publication Date: 2005
Book Condition: New
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