Ninety Freud paintings at the Modern FW devoured me. But I live to tell the tale.
And yes, I was very inappropriate at the museum.
“He’s such a virtuoso with the texture here,” I pointed out to a young man. It was kinda uncomfortable because we were discussing a penis juxtaposed with a rat’s tail. And I was using nice museumy language to soften the image of rat tail and penis laid together, side by side, central to the painting. The young man winced as a woman walked up to him. I laughed (inappropriate).
“You brought your mother to the Freud exhibit?” (Very inappropriate) They walked away.
I didn’t mind, we all skulked around, eviscerated, swallowed in a flesh sea. Stunned looks and furtive eye contact, what the hell is this? Too big heads, too little heads, too big hands, too big eyes. Contortions and legs, naked, bare. A flesh-eating exhibition pulling no punches. Clashing angles pushed hard against each other and bodies truncated, not fit in their painted rooms. As they did not fit into my head.
I approached the teenage docent, “So are you shell-shocked?”
“It was hard the first week,” he admitted. “They started to rotate us, so I’m ok now.”
My favorite – the last painting of the show. The unfinished one of Freud’s assistant David.
“Disturbing,” murmured a passing Dallasite.
Damn right and it should be. Why be subjected to these horrors of flesh? Because I extrovert beauty and introvert truth. It’s too bright, too hard, too loud, too flesh. I admire Freud for drawing me in with beautiful paint strokes, daring emotion and pushing me away with awful contortions and rooms that defy balance. It’s the pushpull between loveliness and grimy street truth. It’s unfinished business for me.
So the queen bought the Warhols, but how about the Lucian Freud?
Just to give you some back story – Lucian Freud is the greatest figurative painter of our time. Passed away July 2011. Yes, he’s the grandson of Sigmund. Draw your own assumptions.
As a rule, I don’t find much compassion for the rich and famous. But here I feel the ruthless sting of mortality. Fatal age is coming for her too, despite her sovereign-dom. Despite the pearls and diamonds. She is a commoner, sharing the same fate as I. It’s a deft touch is that Freud evokes this common cord while juxtaposed with the Diamond Diadem (Freud’s specific request).
He painted this portrait gratis so she could not influence the image. Imagine the conversation in the room as she sat for him. I bet she did not go lightly into this dark night. “Really Lucian, must you go sooo deep into the wrinkles?”
The hairdo really suffers. That would bump it out of Royal Collection for me. I’m sure she (and a stylist team) works very hard to get it that way. The crown jewels got lucky. They actually look valuable in a faded postcard sort of way.
If your know his work, you will realize he was actually quite kind to her.
Recoil at one of his greatest portraits, the Benefits Supervisor Sleeping. Sold in 2008 for $33M.
“I paint people,” Freud said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”
Interested in seeing more? His only exhibition is in Texas at the Modern in Fort Worth until Oct. 28, 2012.
Many Brits wanted to send him to the tower for painting such an unflattering, de-powdered monarch. But in the end, she did acquire it for the Royal Collection. Bully that!