Classic Artist of the Week #10 - Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud inherited much more than a surname from his grandfather - it is the deep fascination with human psyche, lying on the border of science and philosophy. He avoided the "Expressionist" label and indeed, Freud did not paint like Dix or Schiele, but it is impossible to not the the expression in his portraits. One of the rare occasions when upon seeing a piece we think we know it all - and yet we stare at it, discovering more and more layers of human emotion and the seemingly futile existence that we dread.

Freud was born in 1922 in Austria, but when the NSDAP took power in 1933 his family decided to leave for London - and that's where young Lucien received his artistic education and stayed for the rest of his life. His first works are visibly influenced by expressionism and surrealism, but then the influence wears off and we are able to see a mature style that will last to his death in 2011. There were series of paintings depicting horses, linen rags or plants, but what made him famous were the portraits.

And modeling for Freud was not an easy thing. Sometimes, you had to endure eighteen months of five-hours-a-day sessions until he finally decided it's over. Lucien's paintings are divided into "day works" (made with natural light) and "night works" (with artificial source of light). He started with a charcoal sketch and then began painting from a random point, spreading paint in all directions, but always leaving a piece of canvas empty to remind him how unfinished is his work. To obtain the colours of flesh he cleaned the brush after each stroke. Combine all these features and you have the most eccentric perfectionist you can imagine. But it was all worth it.

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