Lucien Freud, dead at 88

On July 20 in London, the great painter Lucian Freud passed away. He was 88 and had long since established himself as the last in a line of English masters stretching back to Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, and J.M.W. Turner. He’d also established himself as a classic bohemian who spent hard, drank hard, screwed hard, and painted even harder. He found debt stimulating, he once said; married twice, he had untold children by any number of lovers. You could always feel the chaos in his life in the chaos of his canvases, and you were supposed to. A Freud portrait could make a sitter seem as skewed as the artist himself on a bender, even when that sitter was Elizabeth II.

Freud was famous for demanding hundreds of hours with his models; he needed those hours because his art was all about taking the procedures of his British precursors and pumping them up till they burst. Freud doesn?t describe, in measured tones, what a particular person is actually like. Instead, he makes pictures that scream flesh, duration, observation, and paint to trump the tidy Britishness of any other master.
Read full article by Blake Gopnik
July 25, 2011

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