Most ambitious exhibition of Lucian Freud’s work opens at the National Portrait Gallery

Featuring over 100 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before, this is an unmissable opportunity to experience the work of one of the world’s greatest artists.
There is a vast amount of flesh — clear and smooth or wrinkled and mottled — on display in the latest show at Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, a retrospective of the work of Lucian Freud. Freud was the most renowned British portrait painter of the 20th century, and he found that clothes often got in the way.
The artist, who died in July at age 88, approached the human body the way his psychoanalyst grandfather Sigmund Freud approached the mind — determined to unmask its secrets. The exhibition, which kicks of with a royal preview for the Duchess of Cambridge features more than 100 paintings completed over 70 years, many of them nude studies of the artist’s friends and family.
Michael Auping, chief curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas — where the show will move after its London run — said Freud was often asked why he painted so many nudes. “He would say, every time: ‘It’s the most complete portrait,'” Auping said.
The exhibition opens with early head-and-shoulders portraits from the 1940s and ’50s, then moves on to the to vast, monumental nudes for which Freud became famous. He painted standing up in his London studio, layering oil paint on large canvases with a broad, coarse-haired brush. Many of the paintings have generic names — “Naked Solicitor,” ”Man in a Blue Scarf” — but the portraits are revealing images of the artist’s inner circle, or sometimes Freud himself, often naked and looking vulnerably exposed. Freud kept his focus on depicting the human body even when the prevailing fashion in art turned to abstraction.



2 comments on “Most ambitious exhibition of Lucian Freud’s work opens at the National Portrait Gallery

  1. granbee says:

    Heather, very fitting and proper to post this admiring essay on Lucien Freud within the year’s span of his death. He truly understood the human body as exposed soul-markings, I think. Thank you for your work here.


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