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The Art Story Homepage Artists Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud Photo

Lucian Freud

British Painter

Movements and Styles: School of London, Expressionism, Realism

Born: December 8, 1922 - Berlin, Germany

Died: July 20, 2011 - London, England

Lucian Freud Timeline

"A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure."

Lucian Freud Signature

Summary

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 a key member 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 20th 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.
Lucian Freud Photo

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.

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.
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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
Influences on Artist
Lucian Freud
Lucian Freud
Years Worked: 1940 - 2011
Influenced by Artist
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
Available from:
First published on 07 May 2016. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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