Lucian Freud RIP
Along with Bacon, Freud was one of the greatest painters of our recent times.
The last great figurative artist who was known for his intense and unsettling realist portraits that left as many question marks in the air as well deserved pounds in the bank account, Freud was messing with the mind whilst making great, genius art. His unsettling paintings, particularly of nudes is no more leaving a big void in the art world.
The grandson of Sigmund Freud, which means he knew about messing with minds, he was at least he was appreciated financially. In recent years his paintings had been fetching a fortune, with one called Naked Woman on a Sofa selling for twenty million quid a couple of years ago.
His early paintings were more surreal as he tried to find his personal style, with people, plants and animals in unusual juxtapositions.
From the fifties onwards he found his more famous style and he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing a thicker impasto. With this technique, he would often clean his brush after each stroke. The colours in these paintings are typically muted.
Like all great artists Freud went against the grain and trusted his own instinct. He insisted on using his realist style even when it was out of favour with critics and collectors. It’s a hard won stubborness that marks out the great from the sheep.
Freud’s most famous subject was arguably the supermodel Kate Moss, who he painted in the nude while she was pregnant. He named the painting Naked Portrait 2002.
He famous painting of the Queen ruffled some stuffy feathers. Done in his unflattering and no bullshit style it made her look ‘glum’ according to some. But then she looks ‘glum’ all the time anyway.
The intensity of his paintings, that twisted real life into fleshy mounds and powerful contours is so distinctive. His paintings commented on the relationship between the artist and the nude. He made real life look ultra real in a way that a photographer could never do. The colours, the energy and the power of Freud’s painting was his trademark. A fleshy realism dashed with a pinky surrealism and the vitality of his nudes and a cheeky smirk.