Monday, July 19, 2010

Lucian and the girl in bed

Lucian Freud © Cecil Beaton Archive, 1956
Sothebys London / Collection National Portrait Gallery, London


A fellow Art lover reminded me yesterday about Lucian Freud.
It made me think of the fantastic retrospective that I had a chance to see at the Tate Britain in 2002.
I had then just finished reading the Biography about Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) who was married to Lucian Freud between 1953 - 1958 and who inspired some of his greatest work.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Caroline (from the Guinness family) met Lucian at a debutante ball where Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother attended as well.

"Princesse Margaret was seized by a desire to add to the festivities by singing a medley of Cole Porter tunes, which she sang "Hopelessly off-key." Her audience was nonetheless cheering and asking for more, when, suddenly, a hiss emanated from the back of the ballroom. Someone was boing the Princess!
........the fellow who had booed Princess Margaret was the iconoclastic Anglo - Irish painter Francis Bacon. And Bacon had arrived with his young friend and fellow artist, the wolfishly handsome Lucian Freud." 
          ( Dangerous Muse Page 64-65)

Caroline Blackwood was a successful writer, especially later in life. She was short-listed for a Booker Prize for her novel "Great Granny Webster" in 1977. After she left Lucian Freud she married the composer Israel Chitkowitz and then followed with a third marriage to the poet Robert Lowell.

"a mermaid who dines upon the bones of her winded lovers"
          - Lowell's words on Caroline.

Girl in bed (1952)

My favorite painting of Lucian Freud´s might actually be this one "Hotel Bedroom". The questions it rises is why he painted such a young woman so old, so worn? (Maybe a prediction of her Alcohol problems?) And why does he looks so harsh so tortured?

Hotel Bedroom (1954)

Lucian Freud was actually born in Berlin (Sigmund Freud´s grandson) but is being seen as one of the greatest modern British painters. He and his family left Germany and the Nazi uprising to become British Citizens in 1933. The other great post-war British painter was his older friend Francis Bacon. 

Francis Bacon, painted by Lucian Freud (1952)
(Stolen in 1988, never to be seen again)

Lucian Freud, painted by Francis Bacon (1965)

I feel like I could keep going on about Lucian Freud for a long time, but to round it up I would like to add one of his nudes, some of what he is probably most known for.

Naked girl asleep II (1968)

Lucian Freud painted raw, realistic and one could say a bit cold paintings. But the truth they are portraying has a penetrating longevity. The more you look, the more they show you his intense talent.
I will definitely never forget the moment I first found myself in front of one of his naked portraits and how mesmerized I was by it´s crude nearly deadly silence it hit me with. But where and when that was, I cannot remember......

"He had a reputation in Soho - people thought he was going to be a great artist. But he wasn´t much liked by the galleries. Everyone thought his work was too ugly, even the work we now think as really pretty. They thought the portraits were hideous. Everyone said, "Oh, the nightmare would be to be painted by Lucian, because he makes everyone so ravaged."
          - Caroline´s words (Dangerous Muse page 80)

Lucian Freud is still alive and supposedly still working in his studio in Holland Park, London. 

With Love!


  1. Kristin- Thank you so much for this education on Lucian Freud. His is a fabulous name and his paintings are magnificent work. I love the stories you interweave with the artist work. Wonderful!

  2. hi Kristin,

    as always thanks for sharing this...i'm very inclined towards art but somehow not very well versed and i really like coming by your blog and being introduced to some great artists!

    i think Lucian's work is very hard too...but i loved the hotel room painting and the issues you raise!

    p.s the way you colour coded the days of the week was sooo sweet and delightful...just goes to show what a beautiful mind you have!


  3. Wow, this was really interesting - I think I NEED to read that book now. Isn't art or design or music...or anything much more intense or interesting once you have read about the creator from their or someone else's perspective? I love it

  4. Gorgeous post, darling!
    Love Lucian Freud's work!


  5. I would love to read that book, I'm a huge fan of biographies - will check it out! You can kind of see the Francis Bacon influence, don't you think? Both a bit gruesome. But ever so talented, nonetheless! Great post! XO!

  6. I love LF- in fact I was watching a few podcast interviews on my Iphone- there is a lecture on the university series as well-

    Anyway- Nice to 'meet' you- I see we have a lot in common- even the two monkeys and a man bit!

  7. Wow, I don't know much about art but this is so interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  8. His pieces are truly realistic but so beautiful....I so want to read that book now. That is so interesting:) Kisses,sweetie and have a great one:)

  9. Great review of Lucian Freud, Kristin!
    I really enjoy this kind of ¨behind the scenes of art¨, this stories are always interesting!
    What a great artist, Hotel Room is very intriguing as you say! Havent seen it before... i wonder if the man in shadow by the window is him, contemplating her decay from aside...

  10. Thank you! Loving your comments, and yes Helena the man in the shadow is supposed to be himself:)

  11. These two painters have always been in my top 10. Thanks for all the interesting info.

  12. Hi sweetie:)
    I am hosting a great GIVEAWAY, so please join in:) ...I bet you will love it!!!
    If you haven'T already:)


  13. His work is positively haunting. I love how you help us look deeper into the piece!