For the First Time Together, All the Portraits of Lucian Freud
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When they asked him if he would make a good model for his own painting, Lucian Freud answered quite sincerely, “I don’t accept the information I receive when I look at myself and that’s where all the trouble starts.” Perhaps that’s the reason why he was always passionate about doing portraits, becoming one of the great experts of the genre in contemporary painting. For the first time, an exhibition reunites all the portraits of the artist - from the first, painted in 1939, to the last, dated 2001. Over a long arc of time, we see the painting of Freud grow in both technique and intensity, while his eye becomes ever more acute and merciless. It is quite stunning to compare the graphic and linear style of the young artist in the role of the Greek hero Actaeon and the seventy-year-old artist dressed only in boots, staring out at us from one of his last works. Following his career, stage by stage, offers an extraordinary view inside the mind of the painter and the image he had of himself, but it also represents a phenomenal study of the process of human aging through art. Because Lucian Freud teaches us that the confines between flesh and painting is merely defined by a glance. And, little by little, as we head through this exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, it becomes ever more fleeting.