Lucian Freud’s (Berlin, 1922-2011) desire to stay out of any artistic movement makes him a painter with only one stage - his study - which convenes the physical nature of mankind onto his canvases. That despite having been attached by historiography and criticism to the so-called School of London with Francis Bacon, Raymond Mason, Michel Andrews, R. B. Kitaj, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, whose common feature is the practice of figurative painting, faced with the abstract movement dominant in North America and Europe in the immediate post-war: Expressionism and Informalism respectively. A childhood immigrant - he arrives in London in 1933 - and frustrated sea-merchant, in the early 1940's he decides his sole purpose is painting and in particular, portrait.
This exhibition made up of sixty works, delves into the history of Freud as a meticulous and merciless portrait painter of everything that orbits his radius of intimacy: family, friends, acquaintances, plants or the view from the window of his study. Considered by critics as the heir of the New Objectivity painting and of Stanley Spencer’s realism, Freud rejects any link to the history of recent painting and anchors his references in Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez. In this way, the path from Muchacha de la rosa (1947-1948) to the series of paintings of the Australian artist Leigh Bowery (1991-1993), Freud describes a journey that starts in the obsessive use of the drawing (which leads to hard and stiff forms) and gradually turns towards: a greater freedom of movement in use of the brush-strokes, towards taking into account luminance values with compositional function (and not (rather than/as opposed to) dramatic) and into an aesthetic evaluation of the pictorial matter.
Characterised by his paintings of naked men and women lying on beds, mattresses, sofas or piles of rags, Freud avoids a sentimental or idealized reading into all his works. The real subject of his work focuses instead on changes in his erotic nature in regards to the last bastion of human beings, as expressed in: Blond Girl on a Bed (196), Naked Man on a Bed (1988) and Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa (1989-1991). In these works, the body, the object of his theme, usually occupies the largest possible area of the canvas. His portraits have a similar purpose, in seeking to perpetuate the life of the model in his paintings and declare that his desire is that the person looks like the sitter.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (September 10 - November 21, 1993); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (December 16, 1993 - March 27, 1994)
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