Lucian Freud at The National Portrait Gallery

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

Lucian Freud at The National Portrait Gallery

Postby jasperjoffe » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:08 pm

http://www.npg.org.uk/freudsite/

Freud has got a lot better since he died. I used to hate Freud ( reactionary, brown , mucky, old fashioned) but I found this show overwhelming and I am writing this review before I have processed my thoughts or seen the show again. Perhaps to capture the excitement of a show that knocks you out. To put it in context I have been painting a lot of faces from photos recently, and seeing paintings done from life may have been the cause of my wonder.

The paintings are English, the colour of tea, look at the people looking at them, there is a magical similarity. He left behind his prodigious talent for detail to make brushstrokes follow the direction of the skin and muscles, first thin, then thicker, then over the top bobbly to create an equivalent for the physical. I felt like I needed a new pair of glasses to see better.

I started liking Freud when I read his obituaries, his aristo-knobbing, gambler, bad boy Picasso lifestyle which had once repulsed me suddenly seemed an authentic expression of his lust for life, and in the end his supreme passsion for painting. In the days after he died I kept searching for more reminiscences in the newspapers . A large selection from his life's work communicates the long struggle, success, and progression of an artist that has reached greatness, his recent departure, makes it poignant.

It's easier to write bad reviews, the magic of Freud is that they are a million times better than a million other painted from life (see NPG portrait competition) pictures, he sees people, and bodies, and faces, and hands, not as they are, but paints them in a way that is alive. How banal. They lack colour, ideas, composition (he most often looks down on people or does silly squiff ones), variety, non-white people, and the floorboards are dull. Yet, there is the vigour of great art. I will go again and work out why they are so good.
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Re: Lucian Freud at The National Portrait Gallery

Postby CAP » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:35 am

I've always preferred the 50's stuff.

The Portrait of John Minton! - if I could have one, that would be it.

Remember when someone stole his portrait of Bacon from The Tate? That beautiful, tiny, little masterpiece? I was heartbroken over that.

It should have been me!

In the end I think his life was more interesting than his painting.

With a family name like that, it was perhaps inevitable.

;)
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Re: Lucian Freud at The National Portrait Gallery

Postby jasperjoffe » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:52 am

I think this show is a mind changer about Freud. It was the stuff about him not going on holiday (except occasional private jet to Prado) and not really doing anything but paint that I liked biograpically. His paring away of life to art.

The newer (later, pretentious word) have a huge sense of Freud's crazy energy, hawkish mania for looking, and paintiness. All good.
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Re: Lucian Freud at The National Portrait Gallery

Postby jasperjoffe » Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:14 pm

http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/lucian-freud/man-in-silver-suit

just saw it again, still liked it, still a great show if a bit beige. Freud really nails this man in a suit, from a distance it looks as though the man has left himself behind on the canvas, up close of course it gots all freuds usual texture, the eyes are especially convincing from a distance, and then just smears or blobs close.
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