London’s NPG will mount a major portrait exhibition in February
The National portrait gallery in London has announced a major new exhibition of the seminal British painter Lucian Freud, who sadly died last week age 88. Freud, born in 1922 was one of the most highly regarded figurative painters of the past sixty years. His images of people were central to his work and this major exhibition will be the first to focus on his portraiture.
The exhibition will be divided into broad thematic groups which concentrate on particular periods, groups of sitters and formal considerations to demonstrate Freud’s stylistic development and technical virtuosity. Insightful paintings of the artist’s lovers, friends and family, referred to by the artist as ‘people in my life’, have been selected to demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work.
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”.
Lucian Freud Portraits 9 February – 27 May 2012 National Portrait Gallery, London