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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Painting of the Month (23) November 2011: Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait 1985
The British artist Lucian Freud, who died in July this year at the age of 88, was a grandson of Sigmund Freud. He came to London in 1933 to escape from Nazi Germany. One of his portraits achieved the record price for a living artist in New York in 2008 of over $33 million.
He was renowned for his portrait painting and known for his impasto style. Impasto is the technique of applying paint to a surface in thick layers with a brush or palette knife so that the paint stands out from the surface.
Self Portrait 2002
He took many hours to complete a picture and usually required the model to be present in the studio all of the time - even if he was not actually working directly on their appearance. One of the reasons he took so long was that for each individual patch of colour he mixed the paint from scratch until he was satisfied.
The results were, I think, sensational. If you double-click on the picture you will get a better idea of how striking this portrait is and how honest his portrayal of himself is. He had a way of revealing some deeper psychological aspect of his subjects including himself.

16 comments:

Alicia said...

Disturbing. Very disturbing.

bazza said...

Hi, Alicia. He was indeed a rather strange man but there is no denying his talent. He certainly managed to inject drama into his portraits!

dcrelief said...

Incredible. Absolutely the finest of techniques. As an artist and portrait painter myself, I am in awe.
Thanks so much Bazza... and the 23rd is my birthday!(woop, woop).

bazza said...

Hello Dixie. The 23rd? Ah, I see - this is Painting of the Month #23.
You saw 23 November and got excited!
How nice. I wish you an early Happy Birthday!
Do you ever show your paintings in your blog?

David said...

Dear bazza,
I have always admired Freud's paintings. I say admired, rather than liked, because I do think they can be, as Alicia says above, a little disturbing. Some I have seen are brutally honest representations of the body in all its ugliness, as well as beauty.
Great post, bazza, and looking forward to next month's painting!
With Very Best Wishes,
David.

Kelly said...

Cool, detailed paintings. They look like they're alive, really. His impasto style of painting gave his pieces a kind of 3D look to them.

bazza said...

David: I think the quality of honesty is strong in his work. I can imagine the kind of writer he might have been; not sparing us any of the horrible details. I do find his work compelling and worth a long look in most cases.

bazza said...

Kezza: They do have a three dimensional look but that is also achieved by his skill with the use of colour. There is a painter called Frank Auerbach who appears to apply the paint with a shovel!

Anonymous said...

Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Troubling, Very Troubling - I can't get the cork out of this bloody bottle.....

bazza said...

Sir Tom: I don't think that you are paying proper attention to the subject Sir Tom!

Rob said...

Not long ago there was a documentary about Lucien on the BBC.
I was amused when a girl of about twelve, whose mother had sat for a portrait, asked why Freud had made her mother and others he'd painted look so ugly.
I agree with Alicia: the paintings are disturbing. He was a very strange man.....but his work is nevertheless compelling.

bazza said...

Rob: Yes, you summed it up well. Personally, I really enjoy his work but I can understand that he might polarise opinion.
There will be an exhibition next year, 9 February - 27 May at The National Portrait Gallery, London. I won't miss that!!

THE SNEE said...

WOW! This portrait is incredibly intense and powerful. I could use a little of his patience in my own painting. The shadowing blows me away. Thanks for featuring Freud this month Bazza. It fits with November.

bazza said...

Snee: Yes, it's a bit autumnal in outlook. It's also a bit desperate!
Knowing how he worked explains a lot but it's not easy to use that knowledge oneself. I work very quickly with watercolours; I would never have Freud's patience.

klahanie said...

Hello bazza,
I'm always been impressed with Lucian Freud's art work and his self-portrait work is truly sensational.
And thanks for clearing up the definition of impasto. I thought it was a technique involving large amounts of spaghetti.
Cheers old chap!

bazza said...

Hi Gary: The literal meaning of impasto, from the Italian, is 'knead', 'mix' or 'make into a paste' and as pasta means 'paste' your spaghetti remark is right on target!