9 February – 27 May 2012 National Portrait Gallery, London
Lucian Freud who died earlier this year was one of the most important and influential artists of his generation. Paintings of people were central to his work and this major exhibition, spanning over seventy years, is the first to focus on his portraiture. Produced in close collaboration with the late Lucian Freud, the exhibition concentrates on particular periods and groups of sitters which illustrate Freud’s stylistic development and technical virtuosity. Insightful paintings of the artist’s lovers, friends and family, referred to by the artist as the ‘people in my life’, will demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work. Portraits will feature prominently in this major 2012 exhibition covering seven decades of the artist’s probing, distinctive portraiture. The exhibition will include his last work The unfinished “Portrait of the Hound 2011″ depicts Freud’s assistant David Dawson posing nude with his dog Eli. Freud was working on the painting shortly before his death, aged 88, on July 20.
The National Portrait Gallery have now revealed details of what will be a blockbuster, with more than 100 works filling most of the ground floor gallery space. The exhibition, the first major show to focus on Freud’s portrait work, had been planned in close partnership with the artist, who died aged 88 in July. Featuring over 100 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before, this is an unmissible opportunity to experience the work of one of the world’s greatest artists.
‘I’ve always wanted to create drama in my pictures, which is why I paint people. It’s people who have brought drama to pictures from the beginning. The simplest human gestures tell stories.’ -Lucian Freud
Born the son of an Austrian Jewish father, Ernst Ludwig Freud, a successful architect, and a German mother, Lucie née Brasch.He was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, the elder brother of the late broadcaster, writer and liberal politician Clement Freud and the uncle of writer Emma and PR guru Matthew Freud. Lucian moved with his family to England in 1933 to escape the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. He became a British citizen in 1939, having attended Dartington Hall School in Totnes, Devon, and later the Bryanston School. When he was 15, Freud enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, but unhappy with the school’s classical direction quit in 1939. He than attend the East Anglian School of painting, run by the artist Cedric Morris. Freud was recognised by Morris as a prodigy and on his own initiative sketched portraits of the editors of the publication Horizon, Cyril Connolly and Stephen Spender. Freud took a studio in Maida Vale and lived the classic bohemian lifestyle during the war. His powerful subjects often included friends and family which he turned into revealing portraits and particularly innovative, oversized nudes. Freud’s body of work follows a perceptive exploration of daily life not dissimilar to the American painter Edward Hopper. His paintings demonstrate that significant art can come from the acute observation of ordinary events, and, again like Hopper but in a very different way, a similar atmosphere of unease is created. He makes us aware of our sexuality, our fatness or thinness, our mortality – our nakedness.”I paint people,” Freud has said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.” Freud has painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. The NPG stated; “We have worked closely with the artist and David Dawson from his studio, on our forthcoming exhibition, ‘Lucian Freud Portraits’. The exhibition, which brings together over 100 of his greatest portraits, was in its final planning stages before the artist’s death and will open in February 2012. It is with great regret that Lucian Freud will not be here to share it with us”.