With tickets being likened to gold dust, I was lucky enough to recently visit The National Portrait Gallery‘s Lucien Freud exhibition. Showcasing more than 100 of Freud’s portraits, the vast range of paintings are divided into different time periods, allowing visitors to follow the progression of his style through the revered artist’s legendary 70 year career.
Having not been too familiar with Lucien Freud’s work before this exhibition, which was curated with the help of the artist himself before his death last year, I feel I have now had the best of introductions.
I was really amazed at Freud’s ability to produce almost tangible portrayals of his sitters by using an enormous amount of paint to create a magnificent 3D, structured effect. The artist’s merciless love of human flesh is also clear to see and there is, what seems to be, room after room of creamy, contorted, lifeless, and thickly applicated painted bodies. I did eventually find the enormous and iconic portraits of Leigh Bowery and Big Sue’s swirly, fleshy and mountainous naked bodies a little, for want of a better word, over-baring.
Left: Reflection (self portrait) 1985.
Below: Lucien Freud was the father of some fourteen children and my favourite portraits displayed in the exhibition were those of his pregnant girlfriend Bernadine, Pregnant Girl, 1960-61, and of his new born baby daughter Bella Freud, Baby on a Green Sofa, 1961.
With art lovers flocking to see this show, more than aware that they are unlikely to ever see another exhibition of Lucien Freud’s portraits as good as this, a new record has been set for visitor numbers at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition closes on May 27th and the gallery has just announced that the show will remain open until midnight from May 24th-27th to help cope with the demand. Tickets are on sale today only - here.
Above: An unlikely friendship blossomed between Lucien Frued and Kate Moss after he painted a life-sized nude of the supermodel whilst pregnant with her daughter, Lila Grace, in 2003. Kate Moss later described the artist as ‘the most interesting person’ she had ever met, while Freud moaned about how the model had aaalways been late for her sittings. This photograph was taken of the two friends in 2010 by photographer David Dawson.