I’m sure you’ve all heard that Lucian Freud, the acclaimed British artist (and grandson of Sigmund) passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88. Often referred to as “a painter’s painter”, Freud was, by any measure, a giant of 20th century figurative art. Freud got up close and personal – artistically and psychologically – with his subjects. Life subjects, that is. I emphasize that point because, if for no other reason, Lucian Freud should be commended for creating figurative art when figurative art was considered “out of fashion”. Throughout his career, he refused to conform to the trends. Freud also, along with his good friend Francis Bacon, helped to push British painting into relevance. And since this is an art model’s blog, I must also mention that Freud was famous for the hundreds of hours of model sessions he required for a painting. Wow, that’s a lot of modeling fees! But he could afford it no doubt. His work has sold for tens of millions of dollars.
Indeed, Freud’s work screams labor. It is said that he wiped his brush after every stroke. His rigorous process is evident on the canvas. Detractors would say too evident. But that intense effort created one of the most amazing self-portraits I’ve ever seen, which I posted on my Tumblr.
Arresting, realistic, and unflinching, Lucian Freud’s work is most definitely not for those who subscribe to the idealized “humanity as beauty” Renaissance school. In fact, Freud himself was said to have despised the Renaissance aesthetic. He chose to remind us that we are all flesh and mortal and flawed, and not the gods and goddesses that Raphael and Botticelli would have us believe.
One of Freud’s most popular works, Girl With a White Dog. The model is his first wife Kitty Garman:
Blonde Girl, Night Portrait:
Portrait of Frank Auerbach:
The Freud work that sold for $33 million at Christie’s, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, which holds the record for highest price paid for a living artist: