Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud Portraits
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
July 1-October 28, 2012

One of the most ambitious exhibitions of the paintings and drawings by Lucian Freud ever organized will open at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, July 1, 2012. With over 100 paintings and works on paper loaned from museums and private collections throughout the world, Lucian Freud Portraits is organized by the National Portrait Gallery, London and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in close partnership with the late Lucian Freud.

Paintings of people were central to the work of Lucian Freud (1922-2011) and this exhibition will be the first to focus on his portraiture. Concentrating on particular periods and groups of sitters to show Freud’s stylistic development and technical virtuosity, the exhibition will include both iconic and rarely-seen portraits of the artist’s lovers, friends and family. Described by the artist as ‘people in my life’, these portraits have been selected to demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work.

Lucian Freud Portraits, explores the artist’s work across seven decades, from the early 1940s to his death in July, last year. Working only from life, the artist said: “I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me”… “Everything is autobiographical and everything is a portrait, even if it’s only a chair.”

Lucian Freud Portraits is organized by Sarah Howgate, National Portrait Gallery Curator, in collaboration with Michael Auping, Chief Curator of the Modern. Howgate comments, “Freud’s portraits are the realization in paint of a relationship between artist and model that has slowly developed over time behind closed doors. His friends, family and acquaintances have always been eclectic, drawn from all walks of life, and this is reflected in the variety of faces and bodies that occupy Freud’s paintings.”

Auping who has spent the past three years interviewing the artist in preparation for the exhibition and accompanying book, remarks, “Freud’s paintings are remarkably visceral. He doesn’t just capture the likeness of people, but the weight of flesh. It’s as if you can see the blood pulsing under the skin.”

Freud’s subjects range from neighbors, friends, lovers, family, art world personalities, and royalty; what could be thought of as a biography through painting.

Sitters represented in the exhibition include his mother Lucie, his daughters Bella and Esther, and artists such as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews, his assistant David Dawson, David Hockney, photographer Harry Diamond, Deborah Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, Baron Rothschild, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Francis Wyndham, John Minton, and the performance artist Leigh Bowery. Bowery’s friend Sue Tilley, the ‘Benefits Supervisor’, who was immortalized by Freud in a series of monumental paintings in the 1990s, is also included in the exhibition.

Stylistically, visitors will be able to trace the artist’s marked development through drawings and etchings and from the earliest head-and-shoulder painted portraits to those of the 1960s when Freud started standing rather than sitting at his easel to paint full-length nudes with thicker brushes and a more dense application of pigments. The exhibition will show that many portraits are not what they seem with ambiguous facial expressions, unusual or uncomfortable poses, telling spaces between figures in groups or double portraits and the use of items such as plants, rubbish and strewn bed clothes all hinting at underlying menace or adding to their psychological power.