a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

my favorite living painter

freud2Then there was the brigadier: in the studio it looked flat and conventional. Mr. Freud seemed to be fussing over the medals on the uniform. I wondered why he was aspiring to paint like Reynolds.

But the picture looks different finished. The floorboards (which he did last) snap the composition into place and push space back, vertiginously; the brigadier's boots, shiny black (a different black than the black of the uniform), thrust toward us. The image is deeply, provocatively unfashionable, as are the pictures of the horse and of the Irish woman.

It is also unprecedented. It doesn't imitate Reynolds. It doesn't look like any formal English portrait. The brigadier is represented as an endangered species, a classic character out of time. His uniform is unbuttoned, his stomach bulges out of it. He is antiheroic and sympathetic. The formal drama derives from the swooping red stripe down the seam of his crossed left leg, and from the sheer audacity of Mr. Freud revising such an anachronistic genre.

Lucian Freud, From the Studio to the Gallery

Lucian Freud: recent works
@ Acquavella Galleries
April 28, 2004 - May 27, 2004