Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ABC Wednesday - F

F is for Freud
 British painter, born 1922
Lucian Freud bio

"A painter's tastes must grow out of what so obsesses him in life that he never has to ask himself what it is suitable for him to do in art."
- Lucian Freud 


Lucian Freud’s tireless exploration of the human form, removed from the romantic pedestal, and examined in the most minute and disturbing detail, makes him the most interesting British painter of his generation.
Freud has produced stunning figurative paintings and portraits for over sixty years, but these lesser known etchings reveal a much more delicate approach to his subjects than his oil paintings. In this interesting mix of paintings and prints spanning six decades, Starr Figura, the curator, has engineered a fascinating glimpse at the bones behind Freud’s paintings. His first etchings were produced in the 1940’s after which he abandoned the technique for over thirty years, returning to the plates in the 1980’s. In spite of Freud’s use of color in his oil paintings, his subjects are always bleak. For Freud, the hard reality of an image is far more interesting than anything imagined. Etching, a process in which a reverse image is scratched with special needles on copper plates, is a technique that lends itself to Freud’s relentless eye. His vision is as exact and uncompromising as the hairline etches in these black and white prints. The result is powerful and a little disturbing, as though things are being magnified when we asked for no such thing. Freud is foremost a portraitist, and his unerring and often unflattering images speak of the immense depths behind the simplest objects and things. Few contemporary artists can claim the ability to capture a human emotion so precisely and so unflinchingly. His occasional forays into non human subjects show similar ability, whether it is the dense flora of his garden or the exquisite form of his dog, Pluto, which is one of the finest etchings on display.

Self-portrait with Black Eye 
c. 1978
(This self-portrait by Lucian Freud nursing a black eye after a brawl with a taxi driver has sold for £2.8 million at auction)

Lucian Freud's paintings are not easy met up-close and personal, as they mostly found in private collections. People appear to want to keep Freud's work close to them. They are profoundly personal and original images. Freud's viewpoint on the human figures he captures on canvas certainly makes him, in my book, one of the greatest living figurative painters in the world. PS

Girl With a White Dog

 Double Portrait

"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."
Lucian Freud

"Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid."
Lucian Freud


"I am only interested in painting the actual person, in doing a painting of them, not in using them to some ulterior end of art. For me, to use someone doing something not native to them would be wrong. "
Lucian Freud

Interior A

 "When I make a painting, I paint as if it is the only painting I am working on.  Or, further, I paint as if it is the only painting that I have ever made.  Or, even further still, I paint as if it is the only painting that anyone ever has made."
- Lucian Freud

 Two Men

Lying by the Rags1989-90

"The paintings that really excite me have an erotic element or side to them irrespective of subject matter. "
Lucian Freud

 The Artist's Daughter and her Husband

 Portrait of Bruce Bernard
"The aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh."  
Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud's paintings are not easy met up-close and personal, as they are mostly found in private collections. People appear to want to keep Freud's work close to them. They are profoundly personal and original images. Freud's viewpoint on the human figures he captures on canvas certainly makes him, in my book, one of the greatest living figurative painters in the world.


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ABC Wednesday


  1. I had never heard of him before. Thank you for sharing.
    Donna - ABC Team

  2. New one to me, too! Great post as always, terrific captures! Hope your week is going well, Gina! Have a great weekend!

    ABC Team

  3. When I'm at work and have time to go on-line, I use a netbook with a 12" screen. I recently decided not to look at your posts on this any more, as it was just too frustrating!
    Instead I wait until I get home where I can see the wonders you put up here on a 21" screen.

    Wow, today it's really worth it! Freud's pictures demand time to start to appreciate all the aspects of a person he can capture in his work.

    What a talented member of an amazing family! Thanks for this, Gina ...

  4. Misfit - thanks for visiting.

    Sylvia - I'm on vacation this week, so it's going fine!

    Francis - yessssss!!!! A big screen is the way to go for my blog. And good headphones. I'm so glad you liked this one. I am in awe of Freud's work; absolutely love it. If I could paint people, he would be my inspiration. I'm so glad you comment regularly. I often wait until I have the time to give your posts the undivided attention they deserve. Will see you there soon.

  5. To follow your mind and not to do what folk like, this is a wonderful post my friend.

  6. Stewart - you totally get why I like Freud so much! :-)

  7. Freud is really demanding of the viewer. I like it, but it sure ain't "pretty."

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  8. The textures and vibrance of his work is so exciting - they are not alwys beautiful, but they speak volumes and show waht he wants from the canvas and paint.

    Interesting, too, for me as I am painting old rusting metal and rope coils and wonder why ... now I know, from reading Freud's wondeful quote - I have been obsessed with them since I photographed them on hoilday in Ireland.

  9. What an exquisite set of paintings! I have to say, I do find them beautiful, for their honesty and umbowed originality.

    And I have to add my first impression of him... Doesn't he look like an ancient Nick B.?

  10. His paintings are what I'd have to describe as hyper-real. The images are all very powerful and very beautiful.

  11. He certainly has his own "style"

    abcw team

  12. Interesting-hadn't heard of this artist (and I know there are many more that I haven't heard of out there). Very interesting in how he portrays his subjects and the use of white.

  13. What a powerful self-portrait! It's clear that Freud puts every cell of his being into his paintings. The depth of emotion and human condition he portrays, and with such powerful technique, is awesome. But I have to agree with Roger, it ain't pretty, this work of S Freud's grandson. Thanks for introducing me to this great portrait artist, Gina!

  14. "Pretty" and "beautiful" are really up to the individual eye to discern, I think.

    When it comes to people, a lot of us have a harder time seeing the pretty or the beauty, unless it's idealized.

    What I find at odds with my own thinking is, how the public embraces skinny women with huge, silicone-stuffed breasts and plastered-on faces as some form of the ideal.

    I see beauty in *honesty*.

  15. Oh, thank you all for dropping by!

  16. The attention to detail is amazing!

  17. Fascinating post about an interesting artistic. I enjoyed the write up and examples of his art.

  18. Mama Zen - yes, it is and always indoors

    Carver - I'm glad you liked the post.

    Did anyone read the gossip on Freud? The last link in the sources is to an article about his 40 illegitimate children. Yikes. I found it interesting but I don't like gossip much; or at least spreading it around, so I refrained from making that a part of the post content.

  19. Penetrating portrayals

    Aloha from Honolulu,

    Comfort Spiral


  20. Fabulous post!Your blog reminds me my time at Collage ( I graduated in Fine Arts), and I even have tears in my eyes right now, so lovely memories.Thanks a lot!
    Your blog is awesome!
    Leia - Bonjour Luxembourg

  21. These are stunning. There is a honesty here, and light and color choices, that remind me of the Helga paintings by Andrew Wyeth. But the painting style is nothing like Wyeth, of course - and they are working with very different paints.

    So many of these are worth an entire post of their own. Girl with White Dog - I was overwhelmed by the physical sensation of the cradling of the breast and how similar this breed of dog is in its softness, the impression of a filled skin, soft and fragile. And the similarity of the shapes of breast and dog's head, aureole and nose, is also physical. And all those echoes of her fingers! In her robe, in the dog's neck, in the stripes of the couch covering, even in the large folds of the curtain behind her... He may claim to paint exactly what's in front of him, but I can't believe all these reinforcements of her hands, the emphasis this adds to "touch," is accidental. He may have composed it in real life, but it's still an artistic creation, not random or casual reality. And it's genius.

    Actually, touch is the sensation that most distinguishes these paintings from others, for me. They almost all seem to be about touch - no they seem to BE touch. The wet of the dog's nose in the sleeper's hand. The sleeping man's hand on the other man's calf - the nude and fully dressed figures making the touch that much more striking, like a reach across many barriers, a casual, innocent touch where so many societal and behavioral norms say there should be no touch. Even the final nude in this series seems to be about her weight on the mattress. The powerful whole-body touch of her figure on the surface beneath her - and the sudden angled way she is lying across it accentuates the impression that she fell there, exhausted, asleep before she met the sheet.

    Lying by the Rags is also amazing for the contrast of the figure, exposed in such shocking candor, beside a tide of cloth which does nothing to hide her. Like she had been beached by the surf of the rags, which will now recede. The fist made by the other hand is another echo of touch, somehow creating a human rhyme with the crumple of the rags, like cause and effect shown side by side but no longer connected. And while he says he avoids pure colors for their innate emotional powers, this painting's color choices are still strongly emotional, to me. The reds seem to me to form a brutal contrast to the peace of the sleeping figure. First glimpse of the painting made me think of blood, actually.

    Interior A - the figures are all bunched together in one corner of the composition! The crush of them is just as physical as the other paintings, making me feel like I can hardly breathe. The hands of the tall figure in yellow, the hands of the figure on the left reaching to rest on the leg of the next figure, the hand holding the fan... somehow the painting seems to be about these hands, as if they could stand in for the figures. And the bleak ugliness of the room contrasts with the lush almost victorian feeling of the clothing. The composition is so bizarre - like a Post Impressionist. I love this one - possibly more than any but Girl with White Dog.

    I hate hate hate Gaz. I think I'm supposed to. Somehow that makes it even more annoying.

    I can relate very much to the first quote, about obsession and painting. Also about painting each painting as if it were the only one... I love that.

    Very powerful post - a standout among your posts for the last year, I think. And your writing is wonderful here, too! It added considerably to my appreciation and enjoyment of the pieces. Brava!

  22. Cloudia - hieeee!

    Skizo - thanks for your visit. Will try to get back to you!

    Steve - now you've got me wondering about Gaz. I want to know who he was in relation to Freud.

    Thank you for giving a voice to some of the things I feel about Freud's work. Also for inspiring me to take a harder look at the painting itself. That's something I don't do often enough, as I'm not looking at it with a painter's eye, as you do.

    It's become obvious to me that you are the friend for whom I like to knock myself out with this Friday night post! :-)

    Sending a hug your way,

  23. Gina - I think it's great that we inspire each other in this process. Your posts inspire me to apply my painter's eye in a different way to the paintings you have a gift for selecting, and in response to your own thoughts on the painters and the works. And that further inspires my own painting... I get a lot out of this!

    Sending a hug right back,



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