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The Great Realist Painter, Lucian Freud, Has Died

by Jerome Weeks 21 Jul 2011 5:06 PM

The grandson of Sigmund Freud, the preeminent British painter of his generation, Freud was renowned for his unsparing treatment of naked human flesh. Since the ’60s, he concentrated almost entirely on portraits, most of them nudes – and ignored any current trends in the art world. He was 88.


Reflection (Self-Portrait), 1985

[FYI: There do not seem to be any Lucian Freud canvases in a North Texas museum —  although when the Dallas Museum of Art does finally acquire the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Collection, they will gain a 1998 large interior. ]

The AP story:

Lucian Freud, a towering and uncompromising figure in the art world for more than 50 years, had died after an illness, his New York-based art dealer said Thursday. Freud was 88.

Freud was known for his intense realist portraits, particularly of nudes. In recent years, his paintings commanded staggering prices at auction, including one of an overweight nude woman sleeping on a couch that sold in 2008 for $33.6 million.

William R. Acquavella, his dealer, said in a statement that he would mourn Freud “as one of the great painters of the twentieth century.”

“He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world,” he said.

Freud did not follow the trends of that world, insisting on using his realist approach even when it was out of favor with critics and collectors. He stubbornly developed his own unique style, eventually winning recognition as one of the world’s greatest painters.

“He certainly is considered one of the most important painters of the 20th and 21st Centuries,” said Brett Gorvy, deputy chairman of the postwar art department at Christie’s auction house in New York. “He stayed with his figurative approach even when it was extremely unpopular, when abstraction was the leading concept, and as time moved on his classic approach has proven to be very important. He fought the system and basically won.”

He said Freud remained totally dedicated to his work, overcoming all obstacles and painting long hours every day well into his late 80s in a sustained bid to complete his life’s work before death overtook him.

“He lived and breathed his art,” said Gorvy. “For someone who was so successful, he was extraordinarily regulated in his day, with three main sittings a day and some at night. He worked each and every day to this very tough regime. He was very aware of his own mortality and he knew his time was very, very precious.”

Funeral arrangements were not immediately made clear.