London. Oh dear, oh dear. Lucian Freud, OM, CH, painter, born December 8,1922 died on July 22, 2011 aged 88.
Freud, was one of the great figurative painters ever. Like all true artists, he lived to paint, working daily to a grinding routine almost to the end. There are no boring Freuds. The family left Germany in 1933 when Hitler came to power. Lucian was ten and already something of a prodigy and, in the style of that family, utterly individual.
Thanks to the academic legend of Lucian’s grandfather, Sigmund, the family name is one of the most instantly recognizable in the Western world and beyond. A Freud does not do ordinary. Lucian probably had no idea what ordinary was. A distinctive and controversial figure, his personal life was as colourful as one would expect from such a background although he was once quoted as saying, “Family is not important to me. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest”.
Like many powerful and charismatic men, women found him attractive, and enjoyed sitting for him, yet feeling abandoned when the sittings ended. He reportedly fathered 40 children, although only two by his first marriage to Jacob Epstein’s daughter, Kitty and, none by his second wife Caroline Blackwood, the daughter of the 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. Elsewhere, Lucian’s virility was more memorable.
Just as Wren’s memorial is in his buildings, so if you want to know about Lucian Freud then look up Tate Britain’s 2002 show. His bold, flamboyant style and heavy use of impasto paint with an almost searchlight beam on his subject, spared nothing and left no place to hide. Freud painted without sentiment. He painted as he saw it with determination, skill and passion. “I paint what I see, not what you want me to see,” he said.
He wasn’t always the darling of the sale rooms. But towards the end of the 20th century he commanded the highest prices. In June this year his appropriately titled Woman Smiling portrait of Suzy Boyt, mother of four of his children, fetched $7.6 million and famously in 2008, his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping fetched $33.6 million at Christie’s in New York - the most for a living artist.
We take much for granted in this life. Incomprehensibly, I took it that Lucian, so full with life, would always be around. What a sadness. London is emptied.
The rest of the week? At the National Gallery, Poussin’s The Adoration of the Golden Calf was defaced with a red spray. But the backroom genius of the Gallery had the Poussin back on show hours later. But do we know why the painting was defaced? And could somebody tell me the difference between that and those ghastly Dinos brothers (currently showing at White Cube, Mason’s Yard, London and White Cube Hoxton Square. London) and their defaced Goya etchings hanging happily next to Join-the-Dot children’s books? They can’t draw or paint so they destroy the work of another painter who could.
Oh please find a more subtle way of expressing yourself boys. We are asked to guess which brother did what piece. On the day a giant passes by, minions giggle how meaningful they are. Don’t you know I don’t care.
ArtScene Quote of the Week
Freud is survived by many children. End of The Times obituary.