Saturday, July 23, 2011

Under one roof: Lucian Freud, Picasso & Jacob Epstein

In the summer of 2009, a child psychiatrist friend suggested that we should meet at the newly re-opened Whitechapel Gallery. What a marvellous suggestion it turned out to be. To be confronted with the giant tapestry of the famous Picasso Guernica was already the highlight.
“We could go home now!” My friend joked. “Indeed!”

Whitechapel was part of Guernica history.
We did not leave and we were pleased we didn’t: 

“In the gallery alongside a new reading room there is currently a display of letters, books, catalogues, paintings and drawings relating to the Whitechapel Boys: the group of Jewish painters and writers (they included David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg) who met in the library in the early decades of the 20th century.”

It was only a small but thought provoking selection.
“Using the Whitechapel Library as a meeting place, their discussions contributed to the founding of British Modernism. Strongly iconoclastic, the painters and sculptors in the group began to experiment with dynamic form and abstraction while the writers and poets searched for innovative prose to express their philosophical and political views. Highlights of this exhibition include Jacob Epstein’s Study for Rock Drill and Jacob Kramer’s The Day of Atonement, the first edition of Isaac Rosenberg’s Youth, John Rodker’s Collected Poems from 1912-1925, and items from their personal collections including the manuscript of Clare Winsten’s autobiography and Alfred Wolmark’s early sketch books.”

However it was reassuring to see Lucian Freud’s portrait of his first wife, Girl with Roses, that was bought by the museum in 1948 for £157 10s.                       Picasso, Whitechapel Boys & Freud.

Girl with Roses Lucian Freud Whitechapel Gallery
From 1946 until 1948 Freud lived and painted in Greece and France, where he met Picasso, who responded to the tartan trousers Freud was wearing by singing It's A Long Way To Tipperary. When Freud returned to England it was to begin teaching at the Slade, and to marry Kitty Garman, the daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein.

Freud's wife became the subject of his first important series of portraits, notable for their flat contours, stylised line and stark lighting. The wide-eyed subject of Girl With Roses (1946-48) and Girl With Leaves (1945) is treated with an unsettling, detached sensuality reminiscent of 15th-century Flemish portraiture or, more recently, of Ingres – so much so that Herbert Read called Freud "the Ingres of existentialism".
                                                                The Telegraph   Lucian Freud, OM

So it was amazing to see all three artists under one roof!!!

Friday, 22 July 2011
Lucian Freud, sometimes called Britain's greatest living painter, relinquished that title yesterday with his death at the age of 88. But it is likely he will continue to be known as one of the finest artists of any age.
The grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and brother of late comedian, Clement, he died at his home in London after a short illness.
Such was the profound and divisive influence of his highly textural depictions of lumpy flesh, even in his advanced years he single-handedly ensured that portraiture could never be accused of being an obsolete, conservative or dying art.
Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries, said: "The vitality of his nudes, the intensity of the still-life paintings and the presence of his portraits of family and friends guarantee Lucian Freud a unique place in the pantheon of late-20th-century art. His early paintings redefined British art and his later works stand in comparison with the great figurative painters of any period."

Lucian Freud, OM (1922-2011)

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