Lucian Freud, Bella and Esther, 1988, oil on canvas, 73.7 x 88.9 cm, Private Collection, © the Artist.

Lucian Freud, Capturing the Vulnerable Essence of the Subject

Lucian Freud, Sleeping Head, 1979-80, oil on canvas, 40.3 x 50.4 cm, Private Collection, Photo: Courtesy Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc., © the Artist.

Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa, 1989-91, oil on canvas, 100.2 x 90.2 cm., Private Collection, © the Artist.

Lucian Freud, Esther, 1982-83, oil on canvas, 36 x 31 cm, Private Collection, © the Artist.

Lucian Freud, Naked Man on a Bed, 1989, oil on canvas, 35 x 36 cm, Private Collection, © the Artist.

 

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
Den Haag
+ 31-(0)70-3381111

Lucian Freud
February 16, 2008-June 8, 2008

German-born British painter Lucian Freud (b. 1922) is famous around the world for his intimate and revealing portraits and nudes. With his keen eye and highly personal approach, he lays bare the hidden feelings and thoughts of his subjects.

The aim is not to achieve any superficial or flattering likeness, but to reveal the essence of the subject’s inner being. The results are impressive and extremely private portraits of vulnerable individuals. The first ever Dutch retrospective of this extraordinary and unconventional artist opens on 16 February at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It runs until 8 June 2008.

Freud, grandson of psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin in 1922. He moved with his parents to London in the 1930s and in 1939 acquired British nationality. Following his training in London and East Anglia, he quickly became friends with Francis Bacon, with whom he was to be one of the founders of the "London School."

In 1954, together with Bacon and Ben Nicholson, he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. Ever since then, he has been regarded as one of Britain’s greatest living artists.

Through into the 1950s, Freud worked in a flat, schematic style that seemed to leave little room for personal interpretation. In the late 1950s, however, he abandoned his precious sable brushes in favour of broader hog’s hair ones and started to work on his feet rather than sitting down. The change had a major impact on his style: his work became looser, with a heavier impasto, more voluptuous models and more use of light and shadow. He uses this highly distinctive new style to depict his models in merciless detail. His view of the world leaves no room for sentimentality or embarrassment. Sagging bellies, wrinkles, bags under the eyes, double chins and folds — nothing about his models escapes him. Yet his pictures are by no means a mechanical reproduction of what he sees before him; they are autonomous works of art created not with the aim of achieving a mere likeness, but rather to create a portrait of what the subject actually is. And Freud is merciless not just to other people, but also to himself. When he heard that two of his incisors would have to go, he immediately started planning a "self portrait without front teeth."

Freud briefly studied at the Central School of Art in London then, with greater success, at Cedric Morris's East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham, and also at Goldsmiths College — University of London from 1942-3. Thereafter, he served as a merchant seaman in an Atlantic convoy in 1941 before being invalided out of service in 1942. Freud's first solo exhibition, at the Lefevre Gallery in 1944, featured the now-celebrated The Painter's Room. In the summer of 1946, he travelled to Paris before continuing to Italy for several months. Since then he has lived and worked in London.

Freud's early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people and plants in unusual juxtapositions. These works are usually painted with quite thin paint, but from the 1950s he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, and began to use a thicker impasto. With this technique he would often clean his brush after each stroke. The colours in these paintings are typically muted. Often Freud's portraits just depict the sitter, sometimes sprawled naked on the floor or on a bed, but sometimes the sitter is juxtaposed with something else, as in Girl With a White Dog and Naked Man With Rat. Freud's subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. To quote the artist: "The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really."

"I paint people," Freud has said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud has painted a number of fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists.

Freud is one of the best known British artists working in a traditional representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989. According to the Sunday Telegraph of September 1, 2002, he is rumoured to have up to 40 illegitimate children, acknowledging them when they have become adults. After an affair with Lorna Garman, he went on to marry her niece Kitty (daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein and socialite Kathleen Garman) in 1948, but the marriage ended after four years when he began an affair with Lady Caroline Blackwood, a society girl and writer. They married in 1957. He has children by Jacquetta Lampson, daughter of the first Baron Killearn, and by Bernardine Coverley (fashion designer Bella Freud and writer Esther Freud), Suzy Boyt (5 children: Ali, Rose Boyt, Isobel, and Susie Boyt), and Katherine Margaret McAdam (4 children).

His painting After Cezanne, which is notable because of its unusual shape, was bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $7.4 million. The top left section of this painting has been 'grafted' on to the main section below, and closer inspection reveals a horizontal line where these two sections were joined.

Lucian Freud served as a visiting tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art (1949-54), University College, London.

Although internationally acknowledged as one of the most important artists working today, there have been few opportunities to see Lucian Freud's paintings and etchings in Britain. In 1996, Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal mounted a major exhibition of 27 paintings and thirteen etchings, covering the whole period of Freud's working life to date. This was followed most notably by a large retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002. During a period from May 2000 to December 2001, Freud painted Queen Elizabeth II. He was criticised by leading newspapers like The Sun for painting the Queen in an unflattering manner.

Lucian Freud asks a great deal of his models. They have to pose many times, at frequent intervals and for long periods. Because he believes that the subject influences the whole world around them, they have to be present and in the right pose even when Freud is working on a completely different part of the canvas. His subjects are often people close to him: friends, family, fellow-artists, children or lovers. As a result, his portraits and nudes possess an extraordinary intensity. For example, Night Portrait, Face Down, painted in 1999/2000, is an intense depiction of a naked woman slumped on her belly across a bed. She lies with her eyes closed, entirely at the mercy of the artist’s gaze.

At a time when abstraction and minimalism reigned supreme, Freud remained faithful to his realistic manner of painting, in which both form and subject were rooted deeply in the classical tradition. His heroes were masters of the past like Chardin, Constable and Frans Hals. It was not until the 1980s, with the revival of interest in figurative painting, that his work began to be internationally appreciated. Around that time, his paintings tended to be increasingly large and therefore monumental. His 1994 portrait Leigh under the Skylight shows a corpulent man seen from a low angle — a classical nude, but big, rough and impressive. The memorable female nude Standing by the Rags, painted in 1988/89 and on loan from the Tate Gallery, will also be on show at the Gemeentemuseum.

The exhibition has been put together by guest curator Catherine Lampert and is being held in collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. It will be accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue (price: € 29.95).

David Dawson, Naked Portrait, Standing and Night Portrait, Facing Down in progress, 1999, Photograph and © David Dawson, courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert Gallery.

Lucian Freud, Woman with an Arm Tattoo, 1996, Etching, Plate: 23-3/8 x 32-1/8", Sheet: 27-9/16 x 36-1/8", Publisher: Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Printer: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London, Edition: 40, plus 12 artist’s proofs, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Jacqueline Brody Fund, Scott Sassa Fund, and Roxanne, H. Frank Fund, 2002, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Thomas Griesel, © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud, left, Painting, Double Portrait, 1985-86, Oil on canvas. 31x35", Private collection, United Kingdom, Photo: © Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library © 2007 Lucian Freud; right,Etching: Eli, 2002, Etching Plate: 26 x 33-1/2", Sheet: 30-7/16 x 37-5/8", Publisher: Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Printer: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London. Edition: 46, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, Jonathan Muzikar © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Etching, Yet Another Facet of Lucian Freud's Painting Practice

Lucian Freud, left, Painting, The Painter's Mother III 1972, Oil on canvas, 12-3/4 x 9-1/4", Private collection, Photo: © Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library © 2007 Lucian Freud; Etching, The Painter's Mother (final version), 1982, Etching Plate: 7 x 6", Sheet: 10-3/4 x 8-1/4", Publisher: James Kirkman, London, and Anthony d'Offay, London. Issued with 25 copies of the deluxe edition of Lawrence Gowing's book Lucian Freud (London: Thames and Hudson, 1982). Printer: Terry Wilson at Palm Tree Studios, London. Edition: 25, Tate. Purchased 1982, Photo: © 2007 Tate, London © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud, Bella (first version, state II), detail, 1982, Etching, Plate: 6 x 7", Sheet: 7-7/8 x 8-13/16”, Publisher: unpublished, Printer: Terry Wilson at Palm Tree Studios, London, Edition: 3 known proofs, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. David S. Orentreich Fund and Roxanne H. Frank Fund, 2007, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, Jonathan Muzikar, © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Fig Leaf, 1947, Etching, Plate: 11 13/16 x 9 3/8" (30 x 23.8 cm), Sheet: 17 11/16 x 12 9/16"), Publisher: London Gallery, London, Printer: unknown, Paris, Edition: 10, The Art Institute of Chicago. Dorothy Braude Edinburg Collection in honor of Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude, 1991.616, © 2007 Lucian Freud.

 

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9400
New York
Special Exhibitions Gallery
third floor
Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings
December 16, 2007- March 10, 2008

One of the foremost artists working today, Lucian Freud (British, b. Germany, 1922) has redefined portraiture and the nude through his frank scrutiny of the human form. Although best known as a painter, etching is integral to Freud's practice. In a cross-media installation, this exhibition explores the crucial relationship between Freud’s etchings and his works on canvas. About 100 works are featured, including 70 etchings juxtaposed with 22 paintings and seven drawings, revealing a dialogue among mediums in his oeuvre. The scope and significance of his achievements in etching are represented, from rare, early experiments of the 1940s to increasingly large and complex compositions made since he rediscovered the medium in the early 1980s.

Not a traditional printmaker, Freud treats the etching plate like a canvas, standing the copper upright on an easel and working slowly over the course of weeks or months to complete his image. He typically depicts the same sitters in etching as in painting (family members and friends), always working directly from models but slightlly adjusting his vantage point applying variously bunched, feathered, and hatched lines to bring individual features into relief. Pared to linear essentials and depicting figures cropped or isolated against empty backgrounds, His etchings achieve a startling sense of tension and formal abstraction.

Curator Starr Figura has been Assistant Curator in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books since 1996. She first joined the Department in 1993. Among exhibitions that Ms. Figura has organized for are The Compulsive Line: Etching 1900 to Now (2006); Masterworks of German Expressionism (2002); Giorgio Morandi Etchings (2000); Giacometti to Judd: Prints by Sculptors (1998); New Concepts in Printmaking 1: Peter Halley (1997); and Projects 53: Oliver Herring and Leonilson (1996).

The accompanying publication features an essay by Ms. Figura; finely detailed color plates of works from the exhibition; additional comparative materials and text illustrations; and a selected bibliography. The book is distributed to the trade through Distributed Art Publishers (D.A.P.) in the United States and Canada and through Thames + Hudson outside North America. It will be available in December 2007 at MoMA Stores and online at www.momastore.org. Clothbound: 9 x 12 in. (30 x 30.5 cm.); 144 pages; 128 illustrations. Price: $40.

Lucian Freud, Head of an Irishman, 1999, Copper etching plate, 74.3 x 56.5 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of the artist and Marc Balakjian, Studio Prints, 2007, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Jonathan Muzikar, © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud, Head of an Irishman, 1999, Etching, Plate: 29 ¼ x 22 ¼" (74.3 x 56.5 cm), Sheet: 38 ¼ x 30 ¾" (97.2 x 78.1 cm), Publisher: Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Printer: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London, Edition: 46, plus 12 artist’s proofs, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Monroe Wheeler Fund, 2007, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art Jonathan Muzikar.

Lucian Freud, left, painting, Self-Portrait: Reflection, 2002, Oil on Canvas. 26x20", Private Collection, Photo: John Riddy © 2007 Lucian Freud; right, etching, Self-Portrait: Reflection, 1996, Etching Plate: 23-3/8x16-15/16", Publisher: Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Printer: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London. Edition: 46, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, Jonathan Muzikar. © 2007 Lucian Freud.

Lucian Freud, left, Painting: Ib, 1983-84, Oil on canvas. 14x12", Private collection, United Kingdom, Photo: © Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library © 2007 Lucian Freud; right, Etching: Ib 1984, published 1986. Etching Plate: 11-11/16 x 11-3/4", Sheet: 22-3/16 x 20-5/8", Publisher: James Kirkman, London, and Brooke, Alexander, New York. Printer: Terry Wilson at Palm Tree Studios, London. Edition: 50, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Digital Image Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, Jonathan Muzikar. © 2007 Lucian Freud.

 

Lucian Freud, Leigh Bowery, 1991, Oil on canvas, 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6 cm), Tate, Presented anonymously, 1994,
© 2007 Lucian Freud.