Biography for Lucian Freud (Born 1922)

Lucian Freud was born in Germany in 1922. He moved with his Jewish parents to England in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism. His grandfather is Sigmund Freud. Lucian Freud is regarded as one of the leading figurative artists of this century.

Lucian Freud's etchings parallel the power of his paintings, but in them he reduces the images to its essential elements. Craig Hartley writes "Lucian Freud's scrupulous analysis - without prurience, sentiment or prejudice - supposes a moral force. His etchings turn candour into an uncomfortable truth".

Like most artist, Lucian Freud came to etching as a draughtsman. Lucian Freud's first etching; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The Bird' was made during a stay in Paris in 1946. Followed by; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Chelsea Bun'. Both these plates have the innocent awkwardness of experiment with a new medium, but it is typical of Lucian Freud that this is turned to curious effect.

The following year after a trip to Aix-en-Provence Lucian Freud produced a much more assured piece of etching; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Girl with Fig-Leaf'. Lucian Freud's wife Kitty is shown simply holding up a fig leaf; but the effect of the print is more powerful than can be conveyed by a plain description of its subject matter. The intensity of the gaze of her single visible eye makes the absence of the other eye disturbing. The longer we look at the image the more suggestive is the suspicion that the fig leaf is not just obscuring her face, it is replacing it.

The masterpiece among these early prints is; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Ill in Paris'. 'Ill in Paris' retains many of the strengths of 'Girl with a fig-leaf'. But deploys them to different, more subtle, effect. As with 'Girl with a fig-leaf, the confinement of the plate-edge produces a tension, but this time it also reproduces the sense of the confined view experienced by the figure in the bed. One eye is almost pressed shut against the pillow; the other eye takes in the rose and sees it vividly. Is the rose important to her? Presumably; but we cannot look beyond the plate edge for more information. We are confined, just as she is.

Lucian Freud's early work is often associated with surrealism. It wasn't until 1950s that he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the complete exclusion of anything else. Looking at them we are often startled not only by the candour with which they scrutinise the human form, but by the physical impact of flesh realised as paint.

Lucian Freud did not etch again for thirty four years. Focusing instead on his paintings. It was not until the 1970's that he again made drawings for their own sake.

Lucian Freud's portraits often depict only the sitter. The enclosed composition and cropping of the subject is depicted in; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head on a Pillow' and Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head and Shoulders'. In this second etching it is also worth noting, in the treatment of the shoulder, the survival of the manner of shading around the edge of a contour which was used earlier for the bars in Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The Bird' and for the thorns on the rose in Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Ill in Paris'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Rose'. Also from the 1982 collection are; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'A Couple'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Lawrence Gowing' (first version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Lawrence Gowing (second version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Women'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Girl I'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a girl II'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Small Head'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Bella' (first version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Bella' (first version, second state). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Bella' (second version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Fragment Head'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The Painter's Mother' (first version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The Painter's Mother' (second version). Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The Painter's Mother' (final version). Throughout this impressive series of large-scale etchings, Lucian Freud's growing confidence in handling the etching needle is apparent.

In Lucian Freud's large- scale etchings of naked people Lucian Freud has chosen to exclude considerably more than in their related paintings. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Blond Girl' and Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Girl holding her foot', mirrors the pose of the original painting, but the sofa on which the girl is seating as been removed. In; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Man Posing', the etching was finish before the related painting, 'Painter and Model'. The etching shows much of the same detail as the corresponding area of the painting, but from a slightly closer, higher, view-point.

There is a warmth in Lucian Freud's portraits which initially seems absent from the nudes. For instance in; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Esther', the broken line, which are less stiffly hatched than in; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Bella', convey with considerable warmth the interchange between artist and sitter (both Bella and Esther are Lucian Freud's daughters). In contrast; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Naked man on a Bed' 1990 is drawn with such force that we are rather startled by the nakedness and provocative pose. But this too is a remarkably responsive portrait. The care and sympathy evident in the related painting, remind us that Lucian Freud's subjects are restricted to the people he knows and can observe at close quarters, in the round, and on the move.

Lucian Freud Quote "I get my ideas for pictures from watching people I want to work from moving about naked. I want to allow the nature of my model to affect the atmosphere and to some degree the composition. I have watched behaviour change human forms".

Lucian Freud's subjects are often the people in his life. To quote Lucian Freud; "The subject matter is autobiographical; it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really". Lucian Freud, print, signed 'IB'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of Bruce Bernard'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Man'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Lord Goodman in his yellow Pyjamas'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of IB'. Lucian Freud, print 'Esther'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Self Portrait Reflection '. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Susanna'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Girl with fuzzy hair'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Donegal Man'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'The New Yorker'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Woman'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Naked Girl'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of an Irishman'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Painters Doctor'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Solicitors Head'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Portrait Head'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'David Dawson'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Bella in Her Pluto T-Shirt'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of Bruce Bernard'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of Ali'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Conversation'.

Lucian Freud's subject matter is often the human form and it is the candour with which he revels it that it gives his work such a powerful and disturbing quality; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Girl Sitting'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Man Resting'. And Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Man Posing'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Man Posing', 1988-99. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Two in the Studio'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head and Shoulder of a Girl'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Woman Sleeping'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Before the Fourth'.

The blurred distinction between portraits and nudes is seen nowhere better than in the remarkable series of works, both paintings and etchings Lucian Freud produced in the 1990's, using the performance artist Leigh Bowery. He first appears in Lucian Freud's work in 1991; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Four Figures'. Followed by; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Head of a Man'. And in the much larger scale head-and-shoulder portrait etching; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Large Head' and Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Reclining Figure'.

The glamour of Bowery as a subject places most of these works somewhat apart from studies of sitters, but in formal and technical terms the scale of; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Large Head of Bowery'', follows closely the achievement of the similarly large-scale etched portrait; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Kai'. Comparative to Bowery, Kai appears introspective and nervously self-aware. These two portraits are unprecedented among Lucian Freud's etchings for their grandeur, not only of the scale but in the confidence and sweep of the treatment. The very breadth of the etched shading amplifies the form. Lucian Freud achieves in these portraits the same impact that he achieved first in his large-scale nudes in the late 1980's.

During the same period that he produced the iconic power of these large-scale portraits, Lucian Freud also made some of his smallest and most intimate etchings; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Woman on a Bed'. It is not only one of the smallest of his nudes, but it is also the most compact in its form and expression. The small Landscape; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Landscape', further extends the range of Lucian Freud's etched work. As well as; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Garden in Winter'. This was followed by; Lucian Freud' print, signed 'The Egyptian Book', also small in scale.

As well as people the use of animals in his compositions is widespread; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Eli'. Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Pluto aged Twelve'. And often feature pet and owner; Lucian Freud, print, signed 'Pluto'.

Lucian Freud quotes "I remember everything I've done because it was done with difficulty".

Lucian Freud continues to work from his home in London.

View all available signed prints by Lucian Freud