Painter Lucien Freud, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin, moved to England with his parents when he was 10, and later became a British citizen.
Freud became known for his intense portraits and figures, painted in brusque strokes of thick impasto and in a manner some call uncompromising, but I think of as intentionally harsh.
In my admittedly biased view, his apparent rejection of physical beauty made him particularly acceptable as a figurative painter amid a modernist establishment that had done the same, and he became the most influential and revered figurative painter of the era.
However, I think he snuck considerable beauty past the modernists, in the surface, textures and touches of rich color amid paler tones of his faces and figures. The same characteristics that serve to make the images appear harsh, make the paint surface beautiful.
Even his famous portrayal of model Kate Moss, Naked Portrait 2002, in which he painted her pregnant, would not be interpreted by most people as at all flattering, but the paint handling is beautiful.
Freud also received some notoriety for his unflattering portrait of the Queen (above, bottom right), but his self portraits (top) and images of his family follow a similar approach.
While his portraits and figures get the attention, particularly when one of them sells for the highest price of a work by any living artist, as the reclining nude titled Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (above, second down) did when it was sold at Christie’s in Manhattan for over $33 million, if you look back into his past work you will find a wider range of subjects and more variation in approach than you might expect, including a number of studies after artists of the past like Chardin, Watteau and Cezanne.
Freud was devoted to painting and is quoted as saying that he would “paint himself to death”. He died on Wednesday at the age of 88.
The most comprehensive single online gallery of his work I can find is on Ciudad de la pintura. Next would be Museum Syndicate.
Katherine Tyrrell has assembled an extensive page of resources, listings, books and links on her Squidoo Lens Lucian Freud – Resources for Art Lovers. She also has an appreciation on her blog, Making a Mark.
There are also posts with images on Escape Into Life and Areasucia (and I’m sure others I haven’t come across), and obits with bios on Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Mail.