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Lucian freud and the visual arts Essay

Lucian Freud was born in 1922, in Berlin Germany. He was a British Painter and a grandson to Sigmund Freud. He studied In London at the central school of art and also at Morris’s East Anglican school, where he studied painting and drawing. He later attended the University of London (Goldsmiths College), and later worked with Seaman in 1941, as a merchant. The painters room was first to feature in 1944, in his first exhibitions of painting. The essay is focusing on the authenticity of Lucian Freud in his work, and his reflections during the modernism and post modernism times.

The paintings of Freud were associated with surrealism, and he worked on depicting people and animals in juxtapositions which were very unusual. He initially started the paintings using thin paints but as time went by, he began paintings of portraits in 1956, using thicker paints. He was using thicker impasto to produce nudes, on top everything else he did. His colors were then muted, and he started by cleaning his brush after every stroke, and his work was usually composed of portraits of sitters who were sprawled, sometimes on the floor naked, but he often juxtaposed that with other paintings.

Some of the portrays he used included; a “naked man with a rat,” or even “a girl with a white dog. ” His main subjects can be said to have been his family relatives, friends, his fellow painters, children, and even his lovers. He was quoted saying, “The subject matter is autobiographical, it is all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really. ” (Lucian F. 1989, P 18) Lucian was believed to have been a member of the “realism, expressionism, and surrealism movement,” where by the artists had a tendency of distorting the reality, and instead producing an emotional effect, and calling it a subjective form of art.

Expressionism was exhibited in literature, painting, music, architecture, theater, and even in film. Painters of the time were then called expressionists, because of their twentieth century paintings. Freud painted a number of his fellow artists including, Francis Bacon, and went on to produce portraits of series which comprised of performances of artists Henrieta Moraes and Leigh Bowery. His interest on people was justified when he said that, “i paint people not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.

” His paintings were characterized by elements of Surrealist and things favoring the realistic approach of portraits of nude. Freud was known to be among the famous artists of British CAEK, for he was working in a traditional style of representation. This led him to winning the turner Prize, back in the year 1989. (Reynolds J. 1971, p 69- 97) Freud was believed to be authentic in his work, because his prolific collection followed the daily life existence exploration.

His paintings showed that observing ordinary events acutely can produce significant art, just as Edward Hopper used to do. In a different perspective he creates an uneasy atmosphere. The argument behind his work is that, he does it with an intention of making us aware of our fatness, our mortality, our sexuality, thinness, which are all elements of people’s nakedness. The ambition he had in his work can be attributed to his words that, “i would wish my art to appear factual, not literal. I remember everything I have done because it was done with difficulty.

” His style of work portrays realism and realness. Looking at his picture of a “cramped, tired, alternately sagging and tense flesh and bones,” makes one sympathize with themselves as they figure out their own bodies, for they can sense their own physicality. Lucian therefore tries to penetrate the psychological depths in the way he depicts the nudes. He conveys personality in a great force by empowering the flesh. This makes his work grotesque and realistic, as opposed to Ingres’s works which are always perverse and stylish.

The relevance in his paintings can be found at a closer look of things. (Michael W. 1989, P 323) His arbitrary way of displaying the nudes in poses which are odd reinforces their expressiveness. According to Freud, the body is physical and psychologically suggestive, and that is why he produces paintings of naked people, though by doing so does not mean revealing all its secrets. His focus was that, a painter must always defeat “the sitter’s power of censorship” through making her or him uncomfortable.

The result then becomes expressive for there is an aggressive flow and libido between the painter and the sitter, which helps in revealing the “human” existence of both parties. The portraits of Freud always show the same thing, and his only obsession and feeling of all what human is. What the sitters imply and what he must reveal becomes the distinction of life and death, and also the conscious and unconscious. He does this by his alternations in his paintings, some with eyes opened and the next with eyes closed, and does arrange their bodies in different postures, some in edges to show danger and risk.

For instance he produced a painting of his mother with her eyes open and alert, which contradicted her posture of her body which was static and rigid which portrayed that she was aware of some coming death, for she appears to be half dead. All Freud’s bodies show still lives and also show that it is possible to become authentic even when an anxiety seems to undermine their authentic nature. (Benjamin, Harry, Hannah, 1986, p 71) According to Freud, realism comes through a quasi-psychoanalytic purpose.

His realism came as a result of identification, unconscious and conscious ways, and most importantly from his grandfather Sigmund Freud. Freud wants to represent trauma and the reality behind it, because it was something he had experienced personally, when he saw homes and families being burnt to death. Freud’s archive had become very useful in modern era, because it was a source of information to many, through the way information was collected, recovered and stored. It thus became a key reference to fields like anthropology, recent art, critical theory and also history.

Testimonies of events like the Second World War gave rise to post-modernism and post-colonial eras, which evoked a reconsideration of the archive, which had become a subject on its own, rather than the usual transparent record. Some of the paintings of Freud included the following: (Lucian F. 1989, p 19) Girl with a white dog. 1951 John Minton, 1952 Large interior W11 (after Watteau) 1981 Reflection of self portrait. 1985. Modernism is the way of reforming the cultural movements, in architecture, art, music, literature, and even the applied arts.

It was a period between 1884 and 1914, and covered happenings in political issues, artistic movements, as well as cultural movements rooted in the western way of life. It was a time when artists like Freud had to improve their arts, create or reshape their environment, laying their basis in scientific changes as well as in technology. It was an era which led to examination of every aspect of existence, with an aim of finding what was holding back progress in the society, and hence replaces it with what was believed to be new in order to arrive at the same end through an easier way.

Modernism came as a result of the nineteenth century both in academic and historic traditions. They believed that the practices of the time were outdated and had to adopt the modern ways of life in such an industrialized world. Some people said this gave birth to post modernism, while according to others it was the same movement. There were several arguments that the values of the society and those of the individual were not different, rather the society was just being “antithetical” to any progress, hence it had to adopt new ways to make it move forward.

(Danto A. 2000, P 65) The theories of Sigmund Freud and Ernst Mach had a great influence on this wave. They argued that the mind had to have a basic fundamental structure starting from the 1880s. According to Freud it had a basic subjective experience, and was supposed to play with the instincts and basic drives coming the way and through which the world was supposed to be perceived. Ernst on the other hand developed the theory of positivism, which argued that the elements of nature were to be seen through mental shorthand and were not guaranteed.

This brought about the difference between the past and the present, because the past allowed the reality to impress itself for it was dependent on an individual. Modernism defined various arts in various manners which were radical. The First World War brought about a lot of tension in the social order and the artistic movements due to the radical parties which had come by and strongly rejected the previous practice. A good example was the Russian movement in 1905. People were now moving beyond realism in art and literature as well as altering the tone in music, in the name of moving to modernism.

(Reynolds J. 1971, p 101) A new phase of modernism came over between 1930 and 1945, which saw increasing urbanization and popular culture. People had to look at modernism as the source of the new ideas for development. Lucian and his fellow artists had to work in modernist’s style and on and on to the 21st century. He now adopted the color field painting and abstract way of expressing himself. Fields of art which had acquired continual change included: lyrical abstraction, geometric abstraction, process art, abstract illusion, pop art and music, post minimalism, minimalism, and color field painting.

Modernists believed that rejecting tradition would lead to the discovery of the new ways of making art. Then came the wave of post modernism, which was a term used to show some contradiction to modernism’s art. It came with its aftermath and movements like, conceptual art, installation art, inter media, and multimedia. Artists had to adopt traits like, appropriation, simplification, collage, and bricolage in performing art. Artists had to produce contemporary art, though not all contemporary art was believed to be post modernism’s art. (Lucian F. 1987, P20)

The idea of post modernism came after the disillusionment in the Second World War, but not all artists supported the post-modernism work or theories. Like other artists Freud had to adopt the traditional techniques of portraying their art. However it lacked the central hierarchy of expressing and organizing principles. The post modernism art had the following characteristics: it had contradiction, ambiguity, complexity, diversity and interconnectedness. Post modernism was closely related to post structuralism. Looking at Lucian’s work in post modernism, it had different effects.

For instance; his image of late Leigh Bowery “perched on a table, his body extending, tapers, reaching up to a sky light, awkward in its pose, full frontal nudity,” is hard to tell what the painter was waging. Freud had adopted new ways in costumes, prosthetics, cosmetics and not nakedness. His art had decency in the artistic transgression but lacked decorum. Effect of paintings had to be derived from the perspective, scale, and the trackings of the Freud’s brush. (Michael W. , 1989, p 323) Lucian’s art was actually significant, because of his artistic nature of representing objects.

He actually moved and progressed with the modern changes which took place since the First World War to the Second World War, and even in post modernism era. He was very creative in his art, and had a typical way of producing paintings of the people who were close to him in life. He succeeded well in distorting reality to produce some emotional effects. He enjoyed contradiction, which was typical in his art. He produced juxtaposed images, which drew a lot of attention. His art aimed at familiarity both psychologically and formally. His intimacy was good to cherish, as much as it destroyed and distracted objects.

He succeeded in his art and always argued that paint could work as flesh. LIST OF REFERENCES. Benjamin Waiter, Harry Zohn, Hannah Arrendt, (1982) Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction; in Illuminations. New York: Schocken books. ISBN 0064301249 Danto, Arthur C. (2000) “The art world” Essay pub. ISBN 0520230027 Reynolds Joshua, (1971) seven discourses, 1778 menston, scolar press. ISBN 0854175466 Michael Woods: (1989) Art of the Western world, summit books. ISBN 0671670077 Lucian Freud, (1987) Quoted in Robert Hughes, Lucian Freud: paintings, New York: Thames and Hudson.


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