A Full Life of Chaos and Fame
Gopnik, Blake, Newsweek
Byline: Blake Gopnik
Lucian Freud, the grand old man of British art, caused a stir with his impressive portraiture.
On July 20 in London, the great painter Lucian Freud passed away. He was 88 and had long since established himself as the last in a line of English masters stretching back to Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, and J.M.W. Turner. He'd also established himself as a classic bohemian who spent hard, drank hard, screwed hard, and painted even harder. He found debt stimulating, he once said; married twice, he had untold children by any number of lovers. You could always feel the chaos in his life in the chaos of his canvases, and you were supposed to. A Freud portrait could make a sitter seem as skewed as the artist himself on a bender--even when that sitter was Elizabeth II.
Freud had a rocky start--it took figuration's return to fashion in the 1980s to make him a global star--but, for all his acting out, he ended up counting as the grand old man of British art.
He was Sigmund Freud's grandson, born in Berlin into an elite clan that had the means and foresight to flee Hitler, taking shelter in England in 1933, when the painter was 11. …