22 July, 2011

22 July - Lucian Freud dies at 88

Lucian Freud passed away on Wednesday at 88. Freud was a figurative painter known for holding steadfastly to his own voice and figurative style through decades that critics, collectors, and curators cast their interest and praise solely upon abstraction. Freud's work ultimately rose beyond art trends and contemporary fancies to be placed firmly within the trajectory of art history as one of the most important artists of our time. In the words of Tate director Nicholas Serota, "The vitality of his nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late 20th century art."

Freud’s painting delves into the exquisite grotesqueness of the human flesh – it is impermanence and imperfection manifest - his paintings are excruciating masterpieces of lumpy and flawed sensuality. Only Freud could render Kate Moss' nude body both ravishing and ravished in thick and loose strokes of his brush. In his words, “ 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."

Working most of his life in a dingy studio in London, Freud's subjects were predominantly friends, family, fellow artists, and lovers. He described that his "subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really”. In the words of New York Times critic William Grimes, Freud's studio was “his artistic universe, a grim theater in which his contorted subjects, stripped bare and therefore unidentifiable by class, submitted to the artist’s unblinking, merciless inspection.”

Freud touched on the most intimate details of his subjects' carnality and in doing so gave his viewers a glimpse into the delicacy and raw sensuality of the human form. British art critic William Feaver described that Freud “always pressed to extremes, carrying on further than one would think necessary and rarely letting anything go before it became disconcerting.” Through the lens of Freud's sumptuous distortions we are given a glimpse of our own humanity, acutely revealed and inexorably electrifying.

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