Sunday 8 December 2019

Video: Art world in mourning following death of Lucian Freud

In a statement yesterday, Diana Rawstron, who has represented Freud for many years, said: "Lucian Freud, artist, born 8 December 1922 in Berlin, died peacefully last night at his home in London."

William Acquavella, Freud's New York-based art dealer, said he would mourn Freud "as one of the great painters of the 20th century".

Mr Acquavella added: "He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world."

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate gallery, said: "The vitality of his nudes, the intensity of the still life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late 20th century art.

"His early paintings redefined British art and his later works stand comparison with the great figurative painters of any period."

Freud, grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the brother of the late television personality Sir Clement Freud, was born in Berlin in 1922.

His Jewish family had to flee the city in 1933 and he become a British citizen in 1939.

The realist painter was educated at the Central School of Art, London, the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham and Goldsmiths College in London.

He was noticed for his talent early on in his life and, after a spell in the Merchant Navy in 1942, had his first one-man show in 1944, when he was 21.

His key pieces include Girl With A White Dog, Naked Girl Asleep And Reflection (self portrait), and he was particularly known for his paintings of nudes.

Freud's works have recently fetched millions at auction, including one of an overweight nude woman sleeping on a couch that sold in 2008 for 33.6 million dollars (£20.6m).

Last month, a portrait entitled Woman Smiling, 1958-59, fetched £4,745,250 when it went under the hammer.

In another sale, Boy On A Sofa sold for £1,497,250.

A self-portrait of the artist nursing a black eye after a punch-up with a taxi driver sold for more than £2.8 million last year.

The oil on canvas Self-Portrait With A Black Eye, circa 1978, shows Freud, aged almost 60, sporting a swollen left eye, as the result of a row between the artist and a taxi driver, during which Freud was struck in the face.

Suffering for his art, Freud was said to have retreated to his studio rather than seek treatment - using his crumpled, swollen features as the inspiration for the important new work.

The artist previously discussed his habit of getting into scrapes, saying: "I used to have a lot of fights.

"It wasn't because I liked fighting, it was really just that people said things to me to which I felt the only reply was to hit them."

He has also created a portrait of the Queen - completed in his characteristically uncompromising and unflattering style, with some commentators describing the monarch's expression as "glum".

Freud was a member of the Order of Merit - one of Britain's most prestigious chivalry honours.

Founded in 1902 by Edward VII, it is a personal gift of the Monarch and is awarded for exceptional distinction in the arts, sciences and other areas.

The honour is restricted to 24 members at any one time, plus additional foreign recipients.

Current members include former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, naturalist Sir David Attenborough and inventor of the worldwide web Sir Timothy Berners-Lee.

Earlier this year, Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's Europe, said: "Lucian Freud is not only the world's most valuable living artist, but is celebrated the world over as one of the artistic giants of the post-war era."

Former Observer art critic William Feaver, who knew Freud for more than 40 years, said: "He was one of the greatest painters of the 20th and indeed the 21st centuries.

"Someone who restored portraiture to its proper place, not just successful businessmen and their wives, but all types of people.

"He said everything he did was autobiographical and a self portrait. He was a witty, impulsive artist but generous with it."

Mr Feaver said Freud had left several unfinished paintings.

He said: "The first time I met him was 40 years ago and he told me he always liked to keep a couple of paintings on the go in case he dropped off the twig and I know he's done that."

Art critic and presenter Tim Marlow, who had met the artist on a number of occasions, said Freud was a "very special man" and "one of the greatest figurative artists of the 20th century".

"He looked at the world was as if he was painting it but when you saw his paintings you saw how he really saw at it," he said.

"He was the sort of person who had a twinkle in his eye but he would also look at you in a daunting and scrutinising way.

"He was very funny and very dry. He never lost his sharpness."

PA Media

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