Goodbye Lucian Freud


One of my favorite artists Lucian Freud died yesterday – aged 88.   Freud, grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and brother to comedian Clement was born in Berlin 1922, moved to Brittain 1933 and became a British subject in 1939 .  His paintings have two distinct styles, the earlier ones have a more smoother surface, created with thin layers of paint, whilst  the later show a more textural impastod rendition of the flesh. 

Freud’s paintings celebrate flesh – in all its lumpiness and glory.  His work is sometimes can discribed as disturbing, but Freud has never sacrificed honesty for flattery.  The Queen’s portrait which he painted in 2002 caused a lot of controversy – some said he should have been sent to the tower for it 🙂  I think it’s absolutely wonderful as it depicts the Queen as human and ageing, and definitely not in the flattering and pandering  spirit in which most court painters throughout history have painted their monarch.  The jewels on her crown look ghostly and somewhat garish a reminder of another age (and empire) and the Queen herself looks a little put out at having her portrait painted at all.

Leigh Bowery

Freud, along with Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach explored the human condition through paint.  His thickly applied use of impasto makes the work very tactile.  Most of the people he painted were family or people he knew-

“I paint people,not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”

Girl with a white dog

Freud has been called the foremost figurative artist of his generation.  He painted on until the end of his life.  He continued with figurative painting even when Abstract became more popular.   Freud is believed to have used Cremnitz white for his basic flesh pigment (according to critic Robert Hughes.  Apparently it is a very heavy pigment and contains twice as much of the lead oxide than flake white and a lot less oil medium than other whites.

“I don’t want any colour to be noticeable… I don’t want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent… Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid.”
Woman Smiling
Freud died after a short illness.  He lived an interesting life, painted a LOT of art, was married several times and had a lot of children.  His art always remained constant and central and he dedicated his life to it.  This extraordinary artist will always be remembered as one of the greatest figurative painters since the Second World War.  I have written some earlier posts about Freud ‘The Painted Queen’ and ‘Bacon by Lightbulb’

More info about this here

Freud quote from here and here

Reflection (self portrait)


Queen image from here

Leigh Bowery

Woman Smiling and Girl with dog


There’s a new post over on my BOOKSTAINS (about time too!)

13 thoughts on “Goodbye Lucian Freud

  1. An aspect of these works that caught my immediate attention was that these paintings seem painted with 3-dimensional clay or are paintings of subjects sculpted in clay. The texture adds an extra 3-dimensional effect. Is this what impasto is about? And uncompromisingly devoid of flattery for the human form or the subjects.

    1. Yes Carl D’Agostino, it is paint applied thickly or mixed with a medium to thicken the paint so it stands out from the canvas. It’s sometimes applied with a palette knife (my favorite implement) instead of a brush. Freud never even flattered himself in paintings – let alone anyone else 😀

  2. He is my very favorite oil painter, Lynda, and I was sad upon hearing that he has passed. I pulled out my huge book of his work and slowly paged through all the images. I watch his interviews online, sometimes, just to feel the inspiration he passes along to artists. It fuels me to keep going. I do not find his figures difficult to look at. To say that would be like saying I can’t stand how we look, for I think he captured us in all our honesty. Thank you for honoring him here, today.

    1. I like the honesty of his figures Leslie, the flesh is a fascinating surface. I always found the more fleshier life models and the older ones more interesting to draw too. He really was a remarkable artist, I too never get tired of looking at his work. We went to his retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002 and were blown away by the paintings – some I had never seen before. He will be sadly missed. I wonder who shall take his place? or if there is anyone to fill that space? Glad you enjoyed this Leslie 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for all that information about Lucien Freud. It has made me want to see more of his work.

  4. I can appreciate his art and his distinctive style, but I’m not sure I ‘d want one of these paintings hanging in my lounge!
    There was a clever cartoon in The Saturday Telegraph, taking one of Freud’s paintings of a nude woman lounging on a sofa and making the face resemble the German Chancellor Markel. very amusing.

    1. I have the same trouble with two large nude mix media collages (done by me) – want to display but cannot find an appropriate place 🙂 I looked at the article but I couldn’t ifnd the cartoon you mention, I’ll have a look again. I did read the article though and it jogged my memory about the artist Stuart Pearson Wright – his John Hurt painting is fantastic!

  5. The cartoon wasn’t in the article about Freud, it was in the centre pages where the main editorial is.
    Nice link to Wright, the John Hurt one looks like a photo!

  6. thanks for this post about lucien freud, i did not know him actually but i can sense that he exudes satirist spirit over the reins of realistic art where the veil of flattery has been lifted. art should serve its true purpose- honesty of expression. thanks lynda for another thought provoking post. 🙂

    1. You put that so well Marvin – and poetrically 🙂 ‘The veil of flattery’ I feel a poem coming on 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this post Marvin, sorry I’m a bit behind with my blog visits and answering my comments this week 😦

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