Friday, March 2, 2018

Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon - The Art of RIvalry

Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud

I recently picked up the book "The Art of Rivalry" from the library and have been completely head over heels with the first chapter describing Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. There's some familiarity with these artists, perhaps even seen their paintings displayed at various museums.

After reading this chapter, I can tell you a fell in love with these men. You couldn't get more opposite, not only in personality but style and charisma. Freud drew with precision, he took his time with his subject, sometimes it would take years to finish a portrait. Bacon, on the other hand, drew fast and with a rapid response to where his paintbrush wants to go. He's quoted as saying "If anything ever does work in my case, it works from that moment when consciously I don't know what I'm doing."

Both of these men were friends, different in age yet their experiences push the other in life and in art. Freud was 20s when he met Bacon who was in his late
30s. He grew up in Germany and eventually moved to England to avoid Nazi Germany. Freud, by the way, is the grandson of the famous Sigmund Freud (founder of psychoanalysis).

There's a famous painting of Francis Bacon Lucien Freud painted of which was stolen in 1988 from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Germany. The portrait was the size of a postcard, anyone could have taken it and slipped it in their pocket. It hasn't been seen since.

Lucien Freud, Wanted Poster (Francis Bacon)

Francis Bacon on the other hand, drew from pictures mostly. He didn't like having a model as he felt they would somehow contribute to the painting itself without them knowing. He was more comfortable working from torn photographs from the photographer Henry Deacon. Usually in a strong background with the subject placed in the middle of the painting the face would be distorted to reflect the emotion of the subject matter, sometimes clenched teeth, head movement, or simply no chin or forehead. He exaggerated his model. Below is an example of this when he painted Freud from a photograph. 
The ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud’. The Francis Bacon painting of Lucian Freud 

I've moved on to the next chapter already in this book and I'm still thinking about these two amazing artists. I've only touched on some of the extraordinary lives these two have lived and it has me wanting more. I hope it's the same for you. 

"Maudie," a delightful movie about the folk artist Maudie Lewis

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