A meander around the current Lucian Freud (1922-2011) exhibition at London‚Äôs National Portrait Gallery is like a networking event; it’s slightly chaotic, everyone is moving in different directions and then there are the faces, so many – how will you ever remember them all?
The realist paintings provide a ‚Äòwarts and all‚Äô account of his sitters; nowhere are they beautified, stylised or romanticised, and while some might find this slightly unsettling (one lady was overheard exclaiming ‚Äúoh dear, oh dear, oh dear‚Ä¶.incredibly depressing‚Äù) they are in fact wonderfully human.
Naked Portrait, 1972-3 Tate: Purchased 1975 ¬© The Lucian Freud Archive. Photo: Courtesy Lucian Freud Archive
Some might see his works as unforgiving in their documentary nature, particularly the images that chart his mother‚Äôs decline, however closer inspection reveals painted surfaces laden with sentiment, curiosity and perception.
The importance of Freud’s work cannot be overstated, and his contribution to British and international art will be sorely missed.
Lucian Freud Portraits is on at the National Portrait Gallery until 27 May 2012.
By Anika Heale
Girl in a Dark Jacket, 1947 Private Collection ¬© The Lucian Freud Archive. Photo: Courtesy Lucian Freud Archive
Man with a Feather (Self-portrait), 1943 Private Collection ¬© The Lucian Freud Archive. Photo: Courtesy Lucian Freud Archive