Lucian Freud - Famous British Surrealism Artist
The British portraitist Lucian Freud - of German origin and grandson of Sigmund Freud - began his artistic career with surrealist paintings on canvas such as "The Painter's Room" (1944) and moved on to portraits, especially nudes, since the 1950s. He paints people "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be."
Born in 1922 in Berlin, Lucian Freud moved with his parents to the UK in 1933 to escape Nazism and the rise of Hitler, and gained British citizenship in 1939. He is now one of the most famous British artists and embraces the traditional representational style. Since his early body of work, including "Interior in Paddington" (1951) - for which he received a Festival of Britain prize - was done with great care and attention to detail, he has also been classified as a realist and even a super-realist. Since the 1950s though, his reputation has been as one of the foremost figurative artists thanks to the impasto portraits on canvas he began producing.
Freud's nudes are often depicted in extreme close-ups. His whole obsession with human figures and nudes has to do with knowing the subjects of his portraiture. It gives him new insights physically, mentally and emotionally. His painting does not merely depict the individual on canvas; it virtually takes the place of the individual who forms the subject of the work. Freud says, "As far as I am concerned the paint is the person. I want it to work for me just as flesh does." As a result, many of Freud's canvases deal with the same individual. Freud preferred not to hire professional models for his paintings, but to have friends and family pose for him.
"Girl with a White Dog" (1951 to 1952) was based on Freud's first wife Kitty. This canvas is an example of juxtaposing the individual with another creature, as is also the case with "Naked Man with Rat". Juxtaposition was also evident in his early surrealist paintings. Most of Freud's portraits depict the nude individual sitting or sprawled on the floor. As his impasto paintings generally feature muted colours, the critic Robert Hughes says that Freud's basic pigment for skin is Creminitz white which contains double the lead oxide present in flake white, but much less oil medium than in other white pigments.
Freud's most controversial canvas is his painting of the Queen, a work done between May 2000 and December 2001. The British tabloid newspaper, "The Sun" called it "a travesty". Freud's etchings, "Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings" that went on display in late 2007 provide viewers with a detailed insight into the creative process of the artist.