Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm only trying to do what I can't do. - Lucian Freud

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Just as we were starting our week in review post, news came that Lucian Freud had died. I think it's safe to say you can't be shocked when someone well into their eighties passes away, but I was. Freud was one of those incredibly talented people with soaring personal faults who managed to have a long and extremely successful career. And he left behind a huge bulk of work. You'd think Freud would've been creatively drained by his gambling problems and the upwards of 20 - some say 40 - children he had, but in Freud's own words, "debt stimulates me." There's much not to be admired about Freud, but his work isn't one.


When Cy Twombly died just a few weeks ago, there was a huge outpouring from bloggers with tributes and career retrospectives, but with Freud's passing there's a stunning silence from design blogs. Or maybe we're just not looking in the right places. I suppose Twombly's abstract splats and scribbles are far less threatening to the interiors of an Elle Decor spread than Freud's intensely confrontational portraits, but for two figurative painting/drawing nerds (read: Andrew and myself) having a Freud hang in our living room is a dream worth fantasizing about. On our trip to New York last year we took a snapshot of one of our favorite Freuds, Naked Man, Back View:

Lucian Freud, Naked Man, Back View, 1991

Like many of his paintings it's all gross, immense flesh, but there's something vaguely serene about it too. I know a lot of people think taking pictures of paintings (especially in museums) degrades the work, but I'm glad we took this one since you can see our legs reflected in the protective glass. It's officially the closest we'll get to being a Freud subject. And the closest we'll get to prying this painting out of the Met's cold, institutional hand.

In lieu of blogs you should be reading this week, here's your jumpstart guide to Lucian Freud - good, bad and ugly:

+ Lucian Freud, Figurative Painter Who Redefined Portraiture, Is Dead at 88

+ Lucian Freud - A Life in Pictures

+ Lucian Freud, The Lothario