Friday, March 23, 2012

Lucian Freud

Lucian Michael Freud is one of the most celebrated and pre-eminent artists of his generation. He was born in Berlin on 8 December 1922 and was the son of an Austrian Jewish architect and a German Jewish mother. Sigmund Freud was his grandfather. In 1933, the family moved to London to escape the German Nazism. He became a British subject a few years later. He frequented various schools of art and universities in England and was expelled from one of them for disruptive behaviour. At the beginning of his career, he did small jobs in relation or not with art (such as merchant seaman, illustrator of a poems book, etc.) before starting to be known as an artist.
Lucian Freud was part of a group of individual figurative artists and friends called ‘The School of London’. He was a leading figure in it along with Francis Bacon and many others. At the beginning of his painting career, Lucian Freud was categorised as a surrealist. He depicted people, animals and plants in unusual compositions. From the 1950s onwards, he focused only on portraits and often nudes. His favourite subjects were his relatives. He liked to paint them with their pets. He painted many portraits, of anonymous people as well as of famous stars. For instance, he made a nude portrait of Kate Moss. Since the 1990s, many museums have proposed exhibitions showing his works.
He has been married several times and has had a lot of mistresses. He is sometimes rumoured to have fathered more than forty children, but he actually recognized fourteen.
The artist died on 20 July 2011, aged 88.

Here is a short description of his best known portraits:

“Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”, finished in 1995, holds the world record for the highest price paid for a painting by aliving artist. The painting was sold in May 2008 at Christie’s auction for 33.6 million $ to Roman Abramovich, a Russian businessman. Freud met the sitter for the portrait, the job centre supervisor Sue Tilley, often nicknamed Big Sue, through a mutual friend of theirs, Leigh Bowery. They worked together for four years and he made different paintings of her. This portrait, an oil on canvas, shows Tilley lying asleep and naked on a sofa.

In May 2000, Lucian Freud began his most controversial portrait: the representation of Queen Elizabeth II. He wanted to paint it as a gift for her. Many magazines and newspapers were very critical about the painter. Before beginning to paint someone, he likes to sit with his subjecst and to establish a good relationship with them. It was of course impossible for the Queen to come at his studio and sit there for hours. They met at St James’s Palace several times between May 2000 and December 2001. The portrait is rather small, about 15 by 22 centimetres and belongs to the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

No comments: