Sunday, February 07, 2021

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame: 1968-2011

The New Yorker published a wonderful article last week - prompted by the recent publication in the USA of the second and final volume of the landmark and official Biography of Lucian Freud by William Feaver.

The article is titled Lucian Freud and the Truth of the Body by Adam Gopnik.  It's a RECOMMENDED jolly good read (or you can listen to it - see podcast link near the top). The article

  • discusses the way in which Freud for a long time didn't 'fit' the American art scene - but how that changed over time. 
  • comments on how this volume covers the 'School of London' painters who were a group of artists who socialised with one another and continued to pursue figurative painting during the 1970s. As such it's also an account of a particular time in art history in London.
  • explores Freud's approach to painting his models and how this changed over time
  • provides an abridged commentary on the life of Freud - including some of the creepier aspects.

Below you can find out more about 
  • the second volume of the biography
  • my past blog posts about Freud

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame: 1968-2011

The second volume of the much anticipated second volume of this biography is titled The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame: 1968-2011(592 pages, Bloomsbury Publishing). 

Freud trusted Feaver with this project because he was convinced Feaver had no interest in his notorious private life. Here are now in total some 1,200 pages to prove him wrong. The Lives of Lucian Freud by William Feaver — lust for life | Financial Times

In September 2020 it was long listed for the £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction.  

It was also chosen as 'book of the year' by The Guardian, Observer, Financial Times, the Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, New Statesman and the Spectator. It was also the Sunday Times Art Book of the Year.

The first volume - The Lives of Lucian Freud: YOUTH 1922 - 1968 - was shortlisted for the same prize in 2019.

Fame follows Freud at the height of his powers, painting the most iconic works of his career in a constant and dissatisfied pursuit of perfection, just outrunning his gambling debts and tailor's bills. Whether tattooing swallows at the base of Kate Moss's back or exacting a strange and horrible revenge on Jerry Hall and Mick Jagger, Freud's adventures were always perfectly characteristic. An enfant terrible till the end, even as he was commissioned to paint the Queen and attended his own retrospectives, what emerges is an artist wilfully oblivious to the glitter of the world around – and focussed instead on painting first and last.

The biography was researched through daily conversations with Freud over many months - and some reference him as a recorder of detail rather than a biographer in the normal sense of the word i.e. it is not a critical and fact checked endeavour with evaluation from an independent perspective. Rather it is a record of what Freud told him - and events Feaver witnessed during the period when he was Freud's friend. So official rather than authoritative.

Other articles about the book include:

About William Feaver

William Feaver is a painter, curator and author, and was the art critic for the Observer for 23 years. Currently as well as writing he is also a member of the Academic Board of the Royal Drawing School where he also tutors. He curated Lucian Freud’s 2002 retrospective at Tate Britain, Barcelona and Los Angeles and, after Freud's death, the 2012 exhibition of Freud’s drawings in London and New York. (which I remember extremely well - see my review in "Lucian Freud Drawings" - a life in line).

These are references to the 2002 retrospective at the Tate

My blog posts about Lucian Freud

My blog posts about Lucian Freud include:




This exhibition is first class - a definite 5*. The content is both comprehensive and absorbing - and it covers seven decades of painting by one man which is a rare phenomenon of itself even when the painter has not been dubbed (as he was - until his death) "Britain's greatest living painter".
"I'm not very analytical"
"I'm self-questioning but only up to a point"
"I never think about technique, it holds you up"
"You have to paint on trust"
"I'm fairly immune from praise and abuse"

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