Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits — at Royal Academy of Arts

Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits Royal Academy of Arts
27 October 2019 — 26 January 2020 Burlington House, Piccadilly, London
freud
Lucian Freud, ‘Reflection (Self-portrait)’, 1985. Private Collection. On loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016-2021 © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images.

One of the most celebrated portraitists of our time, Lucian Freud is also one of very few 20th century artists who portrayed themselves with such consistency.

Spanning nearly seven decades, his self-portraits give a fascinating insight into both his psyche and his development as a painter – from his earliest portrait, painted in 1939, to his final one executed 64 years later. They trace the fascinating evolution from the linear graphic works of his early career to the fleshier, painterly style he became synonymous with.

When seen together, his portraits represent an engrossing study into the process of ageing. Confronting his self-image anew with each work, he depicted himself in youth as the Greek hero Acteon, in sombre reflection later in life and fittingly, for the great painter of 20th century nudes, naked aged 71 but for a pair of unlaced boots.

When asked if he was a good model for himself Freud replied, “No, I don’t accept the information that I get when I look at myself, that’s where the trouble starts”. It is precisely this “trouble” that makes Freud’s self-portraits so intensely compelling – and makes this an unmissable chance to see a life’s work in one show.

_____
via press release, Royal Academy of Arts, London
Featured Image: Lucian Freud, ‘Hotel Bedroom’, 1954. Gift of the Beaverbrook Foundation, collection of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images.