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A Close Look Into the Life and Works of Lucian Freud

Contemporary Paintings

One of the most famous creators of contemporary paintings Lucian Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis. Lucian was born in Berlin, but in 1932 when Lucian was 10 years old his family moved to London to escape the Nazis. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that he is one of the most acclaimed painters of his generation.

It is beyond doubt that Lucian was one of the pronounced self-portraitists of the 20th century. He created numerous self-portraits. His series of these portraits spanned over six decades. Though they lacked the range of Rembrandt and van Gogh, but his self-portraits constitute one of the most stunning visual autobiographies of any 20th century painter. Lucian changed the perception of portraiture and especially the nude in art. His subjects were extra ordinary mix of people that included criminals, super models, aristocrats and even the Queen of England. His naked figures were sensual, but to some people they were cruel and shocking. There was always a ……about his outrageous private life – gambling, hundreds of lovers, fourteen acknowledged children and rumors of another twenty. But who was the man behind the paintings?

Lucian was one of the most original people that I have ever read about. He hung out with low-life criminals as well as aristocrats. He talked about escaping Nazis’ Germany, hanging out with the Queen when he painted her, painting Kate Moss, gambling debts of extra ordinary amount of money and always there was a cultural vein that was focused on his art. He never painted the world in desolate colors for his own pleasure.

The book that got me interested in contemporary paintings of Lucian is Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig. Georide was seventeen years old when he first saw the paintings by Lucian Freud. It was the era of Punk. Georide was so inspired by Lucian’s paintings that he immediately wrote to him, but got no reply. He wanted to interview Lucian for his school magazine. It was 20 years of writing, 20 years of stalking that he got the chance to have a word with Lucian.

The more one reads about him, the more he/she feels attracted towards his artworks. The moment one sees his paintings, he gets hooked to them. For me, his paintings are more edgy, surprising, dangerous and sensuous, all at the same time. One of his many contemporary paintings that I personally find appealing and shocking at the same time is titled, ‘Lying by the Racks’. The painting features one of Lucian’s lovers – a woman he met when she was just nineteen years old and he was fifty seven years old. For the painting, Lucian placed her in an uncomfortable pose, possibly reflecting the problems that had developed in their relationship.

In many ways, Breakfast with Lucian is a key to the people who Lucian painted. It identifies, sometimes for the first time, the people who were painted. Women in Fur Coat, Big Man – these were the titles that Lucian gave to his paintings. These titles always obscured and kept secret the identity of those who were painted. How important is it to know the intimate secrets of an obsessively private individual. In my view, it is very important to know the driving forces that lie behind the painter. The first nude painting that Lucian painted was of his daughter, Annie aged fourteen. If you will see his paintings, you will realize that the probability that you will see something that is there by chance is very little; the things are there because he wanted them to be there. Everything is deliberate in his works. And, that is why I think the revolution of Sexual Freud is so important — it is not an accident; it is not a careless note; it is a deliberate note; it is what he wanted you to see.

After all the time that I have spent reading and going through the exquisite contemporary paintings of the maestro what I have discovered is that the key to the greatness associated with Lucian was his absolute focus on his art. His artworks defined his life. It was a life which was well-lived, well-loved and certainly something that we won’t see again.

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