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Lucien Freud Essay, Research Paper

Lucian Freud Master of The Flesh

Lucian Freud, born grandson to Austrian Psychologist Sigmund Freud, was an English painter known and highly appreciated for his ability to render the human body with such technical precision. He was born in Berlin in 1922, and still lives today. He emigrated to England with his family as a child. He began to receive training at the Central School of Art in London, the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham, and Goldsmiths College in London between 1939 and 1943. In the 1950 s Freud became an internationally recognised artist, and held several exhibitions around the globe.

Freud s beginnings as an artist involved a very linear and graphically oriented approach to work. Freud s oil paintings today are even considered to be drawings in nature and approach. He transformed from this illustrational, graphic, linear artist to one that specialised in the meaty, boring present condition. Freud also began as a miniaturist, often making small portraits and still creating small pictures until today. He would pay an enormous attention to detail, even in the drawing using the thickest and most vibrant of brushstrokes.

Freud s personality was one that affected several people, having an impact on them to equal the impact his works had. “Lucian Freud has helped more people, wrecked more lives, and h ad more of an effect on people than anyone I ve ever known,” said a former lover of the artist.

Considered to be an extremely beautiful boy in his youth, it was said that Freud had a wildness about him that was marvellous. What could be strange is that Freud was never noted to have a natural talent for drawing, yet his willpower and intense love for life caused him to paint whatever he had for a subject. His incredible ability to keep solid concentration allowed him to produce a multitude of paintings in his youth, mostly of boys, dead animals and birds, himself, women, and men.

Freud is an artist who has the capability of creating a resolute sense of awkwardness that gave the boring technical drawings life. He is capable of doing so in whatever medium he used. Freud has been known to create displeasing, disturbing, renderings of the human body by drawing really corny images at times. Freud was intensely meticulous his paintings were considered drawings, and even the oil paint, was not clumpy, yet smoothed to a smooth finish. Freud s work was so successful it recalls photography s distortions and compressions.

The constant factor in Freud s paintings is the gravity and its torments. The body is portrayed sagging, stretched, fatty, ruddy, sleepy, bored, and generally unredeemed physically. Freud is a representative of craftsmanship, slowly carrying that to his style of painting.

There was always a strong sexual undercurrent within Freud s work, in his paintings, bodies of both genders were shown lying down spreading their legs to reveal parts that could have felt a bit dangerous. When Freud poses his models he skews and slightly distorts the space in the drawing. The images may sometimes look like the subject is defying gravity, sometimes almost seeming to tumble upside down.

Freud never considered himself part of the artistic movement. He operates away from that, and that adds to his mystique not only as an artist, but as a person. The painter has said that his paintings are only about his own life, own friends, and his studio, saying, “This is an endeavor that takes place outside of art historical time.It takes place in my own time. My work is not about the culture, it is about me,”.

All portraits the eyes are really big and open, but are lacking life, giving the impression that the subject is mentally not there whereas physically, the subject s eyes are looking straight ahead, a good example can be noted in Freud s work entitled Girl With a White Doggy . The subject s mouth is also rather big and throughout most of Freud s works the subject have their mouths closed, adding to the stillness in nature. Some hint of a sexual connotation is noted as Freud draws in the subject in Girl With a White Doggy with one bare breast. The subject clearly marks the breast with her hand. Often one can pay attention to very small obscure details that can lead to the personalities of his subjects. In Girl With a White Doggy , we notice a very small ring on the woman s finger. This could lead to her being a wife, or a mother perhaps. After one notices these little details, one can look again at the face and collect more information from the expressions in the subject s face. In this work s case, we see the subject may have suffered a loss in her family life, since her still and daydream face gives us the impression that the character is miserable.

One thing that is very important as well in reference to the eyes, the artist makes it a point to show the character deliberately looking at the viewer or having the eyes deliberately hidden. In the work, Strange Bedfellows the subject is covering her eyes masking them from the viewer. Going back to Girl With a White Doggy we can see clearly the subject is close to staring the viewer right in the eyes. However, Freud still leaves the eyes lifeless, so whether or not the subject is staring at the viewer, he or she knows the subject is somewhere else in his or her mind.

One of Freud s Self-Portraits, shows however, that Freud may not have had the same approach to painting himself. He did not make an effort to emphasize his eyes, and the painting was not very fleshy in nature. We can also observe that an exaggerated viewpoint is being used in the painter s work of himself.

The work entitled, Leigh Bowery Seated is a portrait of a model Freud always painted. In this work, the model painted nude, seated on a chair spreading his legs as if the character wants to show his genitals to the viewer. This painting is a perfect example for explaining Freud s ability to paint flesh. We see an overweight nude man, drawn exactly as he is seen and not idealised in any way, another figure perfectly painted by Freud. Freud uses a wide variety of colors on the human body s surface, and this was probably why this particular model was Freud s favorite. We see his figure does indeed consist of a lot of meat and we can say the painting in it s nature is rather fleshy . The more flesh, the more room for a variety of color. We notice an attention to detail, even though the brushstrokes in this painting are not the absolute finest he has painted. Freud may paint with a very fine brush and pay an enormous attention to details, whereas at other times his attention to detail may still involve a work with really vibrant, thick, expressive brushstrokes. In this work, we can also bring up the example of the subject s eyes coldly staring at the viewer, however, we say again that the subject is probably not mentally there, and is somewhere else. The subjects eyes are big and well marked on his head, yet they retain they same lifelessness as in Girl With a White Dog .

Lucian Freud was known as one of the greatest painters ever to paint the figure. This artist in a discreet way could have been using body language showing through his paintings, possibly even more to reveal more about the identity of the subject. It seems that it is more important to Freud to manipulate the viewer and controlling his reaction, than the actual painting. Freud tries to deliver through his paintings a feeling he wants the viewer to experience. This is probably reached by using all these little telltale clues we observe in his work. Freud is concerned with the feeling he delivers in his figurative work. Even though some paintings may come off as disturbing at times, the poses are almost always relaxed. All these elements can be combined into one powerful painting of the human figure, and Freud treats the human figure like a book, painting it with his signs, and probably the way he would like us to read them hasn t been revealed yet. We do not know if that is intended. Who knows, there may be secrets in the artist s figures that may never be revealed


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