Not Quite Freud
I finally carved out some time and excavated some paints this weekend. The painting I started on will either end up being of my son, Wells, as he looked after a friend threw a metal object that hit him just below the eye (causing a none-too-serious visit to the ER)... or, it'll end up in the trash. Time will tell.
I've been a sporadic, occasionally enthusiastic painter, though I haven't worked on anything for ages. This effort coincides with a series of books I've been reading on painters. First I read a book on Monet, in preparation for a trip to Paris and a visit to the Musee de l'Orangerie; now I'm finishing up the second part of a two volume biography of Lucian Freud (written by William Feaver).
What's perhaps odd about this endeavor is that I'm not entirely decided how much I love Freud's work. 'Lovable' isn't exactly the first adjective that comes to mind. I'm hoping I'll get chance to evaluate more fully later this year, when The National Gallery in London hosts the first major exhibition of his work in over a decade. What I do know is that when I was about thirteen I saw one of his portraits (Two Irishmen) in Manchester City Art Gallery, and it's the only art from that day that I DO remember - large in scale and extremely striking. That surely counts for something.
Like most art - and perhaps even more than most - you really can't fully appreciate Freud's work until you've seen it in person. It's not art's job to fawn, but his portraits could be brutal. I am prepared to go on record as hating his portrait of a pregnant Kate Moss, which I consider an abomination. It just seems bad - perhaps provocatively so. In fairness, Freud didn't think it was a successful portrait either.
Freud's life was remarkable for the devotion he showed to his work, and Feaver's book is a superior book of its kind. Much of the second volume, in particular, is drawn from almost daily recorded conversations with the artist. Renowned as a great conversationalist (and gambler, and womanizer), Freud is fascinating and self-admittedly, often unintelligible when talking about art.
If you're going to spend more than a thousand pages on a life, I suppose your first expectation should be that the subject doesn't make for dull company. Doubtless Freud was accused of many things, but not that.