Woman with an Arm Tattoo, 1996
His paintings are among the most celebrated by any living British artist, but are LUCIAN FREUD’s prints and etchings equally powerful? Helen Monaghan looks
at the evidence.
ucian Frettd is well known for his striking.
figurative paintings executed entirely in the
presence of the sitter. Painting mostly nudes. he mercilessly sculpts with paint. revealing every fold and sag of flesh. lixpressive brttshstrokes create both intimate and starkly realistic studies: Freud gets beneath the skin of his subject.
Vogue photographer John Deakin (NIB—1972). also known for his uncompromising. brutal portraits of the 40s and 50s. photographed Freud dttring his career. He said of Freud: 'He is such a strange. fox- like person. but he does like creating small fusses.’
The creator of these ‘small fusses‘ is one of the greatest realist painters in Britain. Painting friends. family. lovers and pets. his more familiar works range from his controversial portrait of the Queen (one of the most honest representations of the monarch) and fellow artist and friend Francis Bacon to a series of nude stttdies of the cult gay performance artist/fashion designer Leigh Bowery and more recently a pregnant Kate Moss.
But aside frotn his powerful paintings. Freud's outpttt as a printmaker is equally important. The forthcoming exhibition at the National (iallery of Modern Art is the first l'K musettm show dedicated to his printmaking and brings together over (if) rat'er seen etchings front the 1940s to present day.
Frettd first produced a handful of etchings between l‘Hb and I‘MX. Small in scale. detailed and tightly controlled » which mirrored his paintings at that time he used the washbasin in his hotel room in Paris as an acid bath to reveal the etched lines on the copper plate. 1/! in Paris is a remarkable
study depicting his first wife Kitty (iarman — only half
the face is visible as the remainder presses into a pillow. In (iirl It‘ll/I a I-ig Lea/L Kitty is depicted. again only one eye visible as a leaf obscures the other. Hovv ever. after these initial experiments with the medium. Frettd did not return to etching tutti] 1982. 'Ilis early paintings and prints are much more
86 THE LIST ' "' [xix L/
‘HE IS SUCH A STRANGE, FOX- LIKE PERSON, BUT HE DOES LIKE CREATING SMALL FUSSES'
controlled but in response to seeing how other artists were using paint in the early I950s. particularly Francis Bacon. he decided to allow himself more freedom with the way he was handling paint,’ says Craig Hartley. senior assistant keeper (prints) at the Fit/.william Museum. ‘In doing things like very detailed drawings and etchings it was perhaps inhibiting.‘
When the artist returned to etching he was persuaded to make prints to accompany luxury editions of Lawrence Gowing's monograph on Freud. This revived his interest in the medium and again, like his paintings at that titne. revealed a much freer. less controlled and more ambitious approach.
Many of Freud’s etchings relate to paintings and vice versa. He works on them immediately before or after making paintings. handling the etching plate like a canvas. with the copper plate upright on his case] and the sitter in front of him. Areas of shading are achieved by applying varnish to the plate and accidental scratches or changes in the composition are often left in. The actual experience of the sitter becomes embedded in the finished piece.
Of the works on show. Lord Goodman in his Yellow Pyjamas. Woman Sleeping. Self Portrait: Reﬂection and Garden in Winter are fine examples. revealing the diversity that Freud can achieve in his work.
‘Iitchings and prints are often seen as subsidiary.’ explains Hartley. 'But as far as Freud is concerned when he‘s making the etching that‘s the most important thing in his life at the moment. In terms of his relationship with the sitter and how the character of the sitter is put across there is really no difference between a painting and an etching.‘
Lucian Freud: Etchings 1946-2004 opens at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Fri 2 Apr-Sun 13 Jun.
News from the world of art
Creative Scotland winner Alison Watt
ALISON WATT HAS BEEN awarded one of the eight £30,000 Creative Scotland Awards to enable her to create the project, Chamber, a site-speciﬁc installation inside a room-sized metal box, the interior of which will be entirely painted. Other winning projects include David Swift’s collaborative ﬁlm, in which surreal carved and painted toys are brought to life through digital animation, and Doug Cocker’s proposal for four major outdoor artworks. Fourteen artists received the award when it was introduced in 2000; ten picked it up last year, and this year only eight were chosen. Rumour has it that many of the projects were not up to standard this year or perhaps the motivation to apply has somehow diminished. I’m still waiting to ice-skate in Malcolm Fraser’s proposed outdoor dance studio on the Grassmarket of last year.
ARTIST-RUN THE EMBASSY IS seeking submissions for the fifth in a series of video and performance evenings to be held in the SCUlpture court at Edinburgh College of Art on Thursday 20 May. Send your proposals and/or videos on VHS or DVD of sound. performance. video or multimedia work to the Embassy (Office), 12/8 St Peters Place. Edinburgh. EH3 9PH or email email@example.com. Deadline is 20 April. For more information call Jenny on 0131 229 1442.
EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL Book Festival, with support from the Collective Gallery, is on the hunt for artists to display artworks within the Charlotte Square outdoor setting during the festival. On offer is a small commissioning fee of £500 and the deadline for applications is Friday 16 April. Send a detailed summary of your proposal with eight slides marked ARTWORK Proposal to Amanda Barry, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scottish Book Centre, 137 Dundee Street, Edinburgh, EH11 186. For more information call 0131 228 5444.