In this essay I am going to discuss the work of Lucian Freud, a legendary painter who uses oil paint to portray the naked form. I will analyse his techniques, materials and subject matter, and discuss the effect these things have on his audience.
Lucian Freud has said that he prefers not to use professional models. Instead, he uses friends and acquaintances as models, which gives the painting a more meaningful and purposeful feel. Freud has said that he “could never put anything into a picture that wasn't actually there” which implies he likes to pour some of his feelings and knowledge of the person he’s painting into his work.
Freud likes to give his audience a real experience of what the model is all about, painting not only the figure but the true essence of a person, something you cannot convey with a paid model: "I want paint to work as flesh... my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them... As far as I am concerned the paint is the person. I want it to work for me just as flesh does."
Freud works in thick layers of oil paint and says that he doesn’t pay much attention to colour when he works: "I don't want any colour to be noticeable... I don't want it to operate in the modernist sense as colour, something independent... Full, saturated colours have an emotional significance I want to avoid."
Works like ‘Reflection’, a self-portrait, are created with thick, non-precise strokes that define the face with seemingly no effort. Every stroke can be clearly seen on the canvas as no blending takes place and all the strokes have a fluid motion about them, like Freud is crafting the flesh on the canvas himself.
His works are designed to depict a person in his or her entirety, and colour is seen as unimportant. His works give the feel that they would be just as striking in any colour scheme, as the focus is not on the tones and hues, rather the strokes and shapes the paint creates. His work creates a stark realism with the audience that some can find difficult to look at. No blemishes or marks of imperfection are ignored, which adds to the feeling that Freud knows his models well enough to not be scared to portray them, warts-and-all.
In conclusion, though I was not particularly fond of Freud’s work at the start of this essay, I have taken a closer look at it over the course of writing this, and have found respect for his strong portrayal of his subjects. While Freud’s work has no clear, strong, meaningful message, his work still leaves an impression on me. Despite the fact it is not a focus in his work, I like his use of colours to paint everything in such a harsh, this-is-how-it-is way. He doesn’t attempt to mislead his audience with warm, friendly hues or drown them with cool, depressing colours, his work simply speaks for itself as a strong portrayal of the human form.