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Posted July 3, 2009
Beholding the Animal
Yes, there are many fine books written about the famous figurative painter Lucien Freud and many of them have far better reproductions for the master's works. But for those who have been considering investing in a monograph on Freud's works, a volume that gives enough representations of his oeuvre to appreciate the spectrum of his talent while giving readable and entertaining written information about the artist and his technique and subject choices, this affordable Taschen volume is an excellent choice.
Sebastian Smee is a recognized authority on the art of Lucien Freud and in this particular book (he has written several others about this artist) he provides a concise and witty and informed background for appreciating the painter's early years and the periods through which Freud passed to arrive at the point of fame he now enjoys. Smee divides this monograph into the following sections: Beginnings (childhood as Sigmund Freud's grandson, and early works), Closing In (dealing with the intensified feeling of Freud's portraits of his family, friends and acquaintances - which include Queen Elizabeth), Freud and Realism (an explanation of how the artist examines the model and finds only the truth that the physical body brings to the portrait), Stretching Out (the development of the large full figure works), Biology (his controversial full figure male and female nudes with and without his dogs), Realism as Theater (an examination of why he paints only those he knows in the space he knows so well that he can ignore defining corners and three dimensional aspects of, say, bed or couches), and finally a chronology that brings us up to date to 2007.
The book is brief but well written and offers enough information to give the beginning admirer of Lucien Freud's art a fine introduction. Grady Harp
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