Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lucian Freud: Monumental

Lucian Freud: Monumental showcases Lucian Freud’s well known naked portraits. Freud is a figurative painter; inspired by the impressive physicality of performance artist Leigh Bowery, Freud began a series of works that emphasize the physical presence of models. For him, the portrait begins with his idea that for all human beings, the naked body is complete honesty.

Arguably, his handling of the surface of the paintings is one of the essential elements to savor in his works. The thick brushstrokes emphasize the intensity of the subject, which encourages the viewer to focus on observing the subject immediately rather than the external judgment. The weight derived from this application of paints organizes and balances the tension of the whole painting. In other words, the rough and thick texture of his brushstrokes is not like a traditional Renaissance painting’s embodiment of figure as a seamless surface, but his work exposed the figure itself as a powerful being that pulls the physicality of the figure to confront the viewer. Furthermore, confronting the figure by physical application of paint with the spectrum of colors between the cold tone of colors on shadow part of bodies and warm tone of colors on the bright part of figures brings the subject matter plainly that causes the sense of honesty of bodies that Freud intentionally wanted to evoke.

Except in some of the paintings of closed-eye figures, the people in his paintings are staring straight of the viewer with serious, seemingly intimidating look. The expression of gazing of these figures existing between strange beauty and unattractiveness, almost seems like visual aggression, even give the uncomfortable feelings to the viewer. These are his devices to emphasize the existence of the figure itself, not the creation of aesthetic value through the beautification. Notably, his consistency of translating his immediate perceptions of figures onto the canvas without the beautification of body, cause the portraits that are complete honesty as the figure is.


  1. I think you were right to mention the importance in the physicality of his paintings. Freud's thick textures and and built up layers of paint are part of what make them so amazing to experience in person. The bodies become more than just bodies, giving his subjects depth and vulnerability that give the viewer a more intense and intimate experience with the work. The only thing I would say is maybe to double check some of the grammar/sentence structures. Great job!

  2. It was interesting to hear your interpretation about how Freud uses honestly in his works. The connection (or lack thereof) between subject and artist as well as subject and viewer can determine so much about a work, so it was good that you noted this.

    I agree with Lizzy that double checking some of the grammar within your writing would be helpful, but I would also add that some of your word choice also feels a bit broad. By using some more specific language I think you could push your analysis. For instance you mention that he "emphasized the physical presence of the models extremely" but was this emphasis just for the sake of pointing it out or was it glorifying their size? vilifying them?

    Overall an interesting read!