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Artists Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud Photo

Lucian Freud

British Painter

Movements and Styles: Expressionism, Neo-Expressionism, Realism, School of London

Born: December 8, 1922 - Berlin, Germany

Died: July 20, 2011 - London, England

Lucian Freud Timeline

Quotes

"My work is purely autobiographical. It is about myself and my surroundings. It is an attempt at a record. I work from people that interest me and that I care about, in rooms that I live in and know. I use the people to invent my pictures with, and I can work more freely when they are there."
Lucian Freud
"Full, saturated colors have an emotional significance I want to avoid."
Lucian Freud
"The paintings that really excite me have an erotic element or side to them irrespective of subject matter."
Lucian Freud
"The only way I could work properly was by using the absolute maximum of observation and concentration that I could possible muster."
Lucian Freud
"A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure."
Lucian Freud
"What do I ask of a painting? I ask it to astonish, disturb, seduce, convince."
Lucian Freud
"I want paint to work as flesh...I know my idea of portraiture came from dissatisfaction with portraits that resembled people. I would wish my portraits to be of the people not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them. I didn't want to just get a likeness like a mimic, but to portray them, like an actor. As far as I am concerned the paint is the person. I want it to work for me just as flesh does."
Lucian Freud
"Painters who use life itself as their subject-matter, working with the object in front of them, do so in order to translate life into art almost literally, as it were. The subject must be kept under closest observation: if this is done, day and night, the subject - he, she or it - will eventually reveal the all without which selection itself is not possible: they will reveal it through movements and attitudes, through every variation one moment from another. It is this very knowledge of life which can give art complete independence from life, an independence that is necessary because the picture in order to move us must never merely remind us of life, but must acquire a life of its own, precisely in order to reflect life..."
Lucian Freud
"All portraits are difficult for me. But a nude presents different challenges. When someone is naked, there is in effect nothing to be hidden. You are stripped of your costume, as it were. Not everyone wants to be that honest about themselves. That means I feel an obligation to be equally honest in how I represent their honesty. It's a matter of responsibility. I'm not trying to be a philosopher. I'm more of a realist. I'm just trying to see and understand the people that make up my life. I think of my painting as a continuous group portrait."
Lucian Freud
"[Freud's portraits are] prophecies [rather than] snapshots of the sitter as physically captured in a precise historical moment."
Caroline Blackwood - 2nd wife

"Looking at humans with light streaming down on them is something I terribly liked."

Lucian Freud Signature

Synopsis

Lucian Freud, renowned for his unflinching observations of anatomy and psychology, made even the beautiful people (including Kate Moss) look ugly. One of the late twentieth-century's most celebrated portraitists, Freud painted only those closest to him: friends and family, wives and mistresses, and, last but not least, himself. His insightful series of self-portraits spanned over six decades. Unusual among artists with such long careers, his style remained remarkably consistent. Perhaps inevitably, the psychic intensity of his portraits, and his notoriously long sessions with sitters have been compared with the psychoanalytic practice of his famous grandfather, Sigmund Freud.

Key Ideas

Unapologetically self-absorbed, Freud embodied a notion that comes to us from the Renaissance, and which has been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: "Every artist paints himself." Freud remained aloof from his sitters, a rapport that comes through in his work, referring to the work as "purely autobiographical" and the people he painted as merely the vehicle for figurative innovations: "I use the people to invent my pictures with, and I can work more freely when they are there."
Freud was one of the founders of the so-called School of London, a group of artists dedicated to figurative realism, considered somewhat reactionary at the time because it eschewed the presence of avant-garde movements at the time, such as Minimalism, Pop, and Conceptual art. Compared with David Hockney, or even Francis Bacon, his contemporaries, Freud is stylistically conventional. The subject matter, however, is anything but.
While life drawing classes had long included nude models, the expressive detail with which Freud paints genitals sets him apart from other artists in the history of portraiture. With the analytic scrutiny and detail a botanical illustrator might devote to a rare flower, Freud paints primary and secondary sex characteristics.
Freud owes much to the early-20th-century Expressionists. His pronounced, expressive strokes recall Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch, and the tilted perspective and anthropomorphic depictions of chairs, shoes, and other inanimate objects bring to mind Vincent van Gogh.
Freud was one of the great self-portraitists of the 20thh century. He painted himself obsessively. While it may lack the range of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or Schiele, Freud's self-portraits form one of the most complete visual autobiographies of any painter, yielding insight into the self-absorption and relentless drive that fueled the artist.

Biography

Lucian Freud Photo

Childhood and Education

Lucian Freud was born into an artistic middle-class Jewish family. His father Ernst was an architect, his mother Lucie Brasch studied art history, and his grandfather was the paradigm-shifting psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. In 1933, Freud and his family left Berlin to escape Hitler and settled in London.

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Lucian Freud Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Lucian Freud
Interactive chart with Lucian Freud's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet
Otto DixOtto Dix
Alberto GiacomettiAlberto Giacometti
George GroszGeorge Grosz

Personal Contacts

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
William AcquavellaWilliam Acquavella

Movements

ExpressionismExpressionism
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism
New ObjectivityNew Objectivity
RealismRealism

Influences on Artist
Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud
Years Worked: 1940 - 2011
Influenced by Artist

Artists

John CurrinJohn Currin
Eric FischlEric Fischl

Personal Contacts

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Martin GayfordMartin Gayford

Movements

ExpressionismExpressionism
Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism
RealismRealism
School of LondonSchool of London

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ruth Epstein

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Ruth Epstein
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