Lucian Freud

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The English haven’t really produced many great artists, just a few and none stands out as much as Lucian Freud , the German – English painter is woefully embraced as a genius enigma who was driven by his own demons (both personal and professional). The grandson of the Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, Lucian grew up in a world which was strangely inhabited by his grandfather’s teachings. Most of his paintings have a very Freud-like touch to them which often link both grandson and grandfather – both geniuses of a different kind yet very similar to each other at the same time.

Born on December 8, 1922 into an affluent German Jewish family, a young Freud moved to England when he was 10 with his family to escape the rise of Nazism in Germany. It was England which made him dabble in painting initially. Illustrating a poet’s book in 1943 made Freud realize his true calling lay as a painter. Barely a year later in 1944, Freud held his first exhibition showcasing his very early art work. The next few years found Freud globetrotting from Paris, Greece to Ireland studying art endlessly. Most of Freud’s work was autobiographical in nature, human faces (in layers of deep browns and their features accentuated) which made a mark on his life in certain ways. With the years that followed the faces became full bodies in different degrees of nudity, a fact which irked some art lovers. This was mostly due to the close relationship he shared with some of his painting subjects; the most iconic and controversial being his Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa. As the name suggests, the painting is basically a nude portrait of a woman lying down on a sofa. The only catch is the woman happened to be Freud’s own daughter Bella. Despite the uncomfortable setting of the painting it has not stopped people from admiring it; the painting is worth £20 million and rests beautifully to be admired or purchased at Christie’s in London.

Lucian Freud was very open about his individualistic style; he never borrowed painting styles from other experts like Picasso or Max Ernst. Instead he opted for the unusual style of focusing on the human face and telling stories with the use of masterful ground strokes in deep colors. Freud was also one always ready for controversy; never shy of an opinion Freud painted a very unflattering portrait of the Queen which didn’t go down well with the Royal family. One unique thing about Freud was his refusal to talk or discuss his art with anyone. He considered it disrespectful as most of his painting subjects were real life people whom he knew. He was adamant on getting to know his subjects well before painting them, which makes sense since at times it used to take him a few years to finish just one painting.

Freud never considered his semi-nude paintings as controversial, for him each painting was a face which was telling many stories. Freud saw people beyond their daily attire, the real person behind the different layers of clothing. This sheer magnificence is beautifully captured in certain works of his, like the Portrait of a Hound, Sleeping by the Lion Carpet or the Brigadier (one of his rare fully clothed portraits of the late Andrew Parker Bowles).


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