Who was Lucian Freud?

Who was Lucian Freud?
  • British Painter: Born in Berlin 1922 – Died in London 2011

I’ve just watched a riveting biography about this incredible, modern, portrait artist, titled: Lucian Freud Portraits.

Watching this film as well as doing some post-movie research I’m absolutely captivated.

For one thing, I can’t believe how his models, both family, friends and famous people, would sit for hours on end, and then for months on end (often in the nude) so that he could complete their portraits. Each painting would take almost a year, sometimes more, to finish. During this time, he encouraged conversation and thus got to know his subjects extremely well.

He painted slowly. Extremely slowly. He looked for minute detail and formed an intimate relationship with the subject’s face. He was focused on how each muscled moved under light and how it changed their face and therefore their mood. Each brushstroke was analysed and thought through. Every portrait was not just a face but a biography of the model. One can feel the model’s intense emotion during that period of their life. Lucian Freud’s meticulous attention to skin colour and tone is why he’s is considered a genius and a rare talent.

In this era of ‘fake news’, fake boobs, and body shaming, Lucian unashamedly got to paint his subjects in all their real, un-made-up glory, often in very unflattering poses. In most cases, the portraits were un-glamourous, slightly disturbing or at times genuinely ugly, yet a lot of his models returned again and again for more. Why?

Besides being admirers of his unbelievable talent, it turns out that Lucian had the most engaging, electric personality that sucked people in. He was entertaining, sexy, a womaniser, passionate and a deep thinker. If you were a child of his, the only way to spend quality time with Lucian was to model for him. Most of his lovers, children and grandchildren appear throughout his body of work. He loved cooking for his models and spoiling them. He wanted the experience to be good for both of them: painter and model.

Lucian was a very private person, refusing to do interviews. Painting was the most important thing in his life and that’s all he really lived for. He was still painting until he died at 88.

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“The painter makes real to others his innermost feelings about all that he cares for. A secret becomes known to everyone who views the picture through the intensity with which it is felt.” – Lucian Freud

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