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8.9.05

Lucian Freud in Venice

Lucian Freud, Portrait of David Hockney, 2002, Private CollectionThanks to Tyler Green for linking to us over at Modern Art Notes. We want to keep you coming back, so here's a little article by Philippe Dagen (Lucian Freud, entre provocation et anachronisme, August 25) in Le Monde, on a new Lucian Freud exhibit at the Museo Correr in Venice (my translation):

The Venitian retrospective asks the question in more than 90 works from the end of the 1940s to today, with a marked preference for the two most recent decades. It asks the question succinctly, giving the viewer all the necessary pieces. To judge by the crowds it is creating, it has come at the right time, affirming itself in the face of the Biennale as the manifesto of another conception of art, entirely founded on painting in its most difficult form, its relationships with what these days we call reality and its capacity to reveal it. [...]

The oldest canvas in the show is the portrait of a seated girl, her hand clenching a rose. The most recent is a selfportrait in the studio, in the company of a nude young woman who is squeezing the painter's thigh in a sign of respect, possession, or desire. Between the two, there is nothing but portraits, nudes, and genre scenes that are portraits of models. "Every work is a portrait," as Freud himself has often repeated, explaining that what is essential is not the visual analogy between a subject and its depiction, but instead the art of giving the depiction its own life, a presence and intensity equal to those of the model. The image can not be simply a well-imitated simulacrum but must be the recreation of life through the medium of painting. This idea does not release the painter from seeking a good resemblance but demands that he infuse it with movement.

Modern Art at Ionarts:

Jeff Koons Interview (September 6, 2005)

New Max Ernst Museum (September 5, 2005)

Jean Nouvel Interview (August 30, 2005)

Robert Rauschenberg Interview (August 29, 2005)

Anselm Kiefer Interview (August 16, 2005)
That's why every Freud retrospective seems like a series of essays proceeding from that first and invariable certainty. The compositions don't really evolve: half are closeups, and half are in angled or very steep perspective. The principal subject is in the middle, human or sometimes animal. Things, fabrics, rooms, and places are not important, a fact underscored by the rareness of landscapes and still lifes. Colors and light barely change, dominated by ochers, bistres, gray, and white. The contrasts of shadow and light are not really accentuated, as if everything is bathed in a uniform light — is it the light of the studio?
The museum's Web site has about ten images, which is better than nothing but not very good. Le Monde has an image of David and Eli, from 2004. Perhaps the most interesting owner who agreed to loan a privately held Freud portrait? One Elizabeth Windsor, also known as Queen Elizabeth II, who has sent Freud's controversial portrait of her to Venice. Lucian Freud will be on view at the Museo Correr in Venice until October 30.

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