Thursday, July 19, 2007

Painter Lucian Freud (How Can One Live?)

If you've never seen it, go gaze at this gorgeous painting by Lucian Freud.

Or look at this mottled face. How beautiful to see skin as it really is, and not a sanitized CoverGirl tone. Why do we insist upon improving upon nature’s work? Why do we deem the non-uniform ugly? What’s wrong with a face that is green and blue and black? Red, orange, yellow? What’s wrong with veins and bumps and wrinkles, when they are drawn so exquisitely?

When I first saw these paintings in the pages of a heavy, unadorned art book, it was as if Lucian Freud had spoken a pressing truth, one that I'd never dared tell, and when he did, the relief was so intense, I wanted to cry.

I especially liked the portraits he did of models’ faces on a simple pillow or bed. There is a sense of fascination, as if you were looking at a newborn child or a lover asleep. Only he looks at everyone that way. Many of his full-size paintings, which I can't link to here, are so brutally observant that they are painful.

I wonder how he treats his models, the people in his life that he paints. Is he kind to them, or as bruisingly loving as his portrayals? Does he have to shield himself from their beauty in real life so he isn’t overwhelmed? How does he maintain his true sight? How can one live, seeing this intensely?

Tomorrow, I'll post a poem I wrote in response to Lucian Freud's paintings. Until then, look at them, read this, and tell me if he is blessed or cursed.


  1. Thanks for introducing me to his paintings. I can't access that last link on the computer I'm on, but I will try it from home later.

  2. I had a bit of link trouble with the links to, so I changed some of them. Tell me if that last one doesn't work at home, and I'll try to fix it too.

  3. "I could never put anything into a picture that wasn't actually there in front of me. That would be a pointless lie, a mere bit of artfulness."

    If only the airbrush magazine artists followed the same philosophy.


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