Lucian Freud

Link to the Lucian Freud Exhibit at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

The exhibit itself is powerful.  I have known Freud’s works for a long time, but seeing them in person is much more intense.  Some of them are tender and poignant, others unsparingly frank, and some – especially the “naked portraits” (his term) of his own daughters as teens and young women – are still shocking.  He was as unsparing of himself as he was of his subjects, and the psychological inheritance from his grandfather Sigmund is clearly present in his emphasis on nakedly honest portraiture (clothed or not).  His inclusion of animals in so many of his paintings also suggests his sense of a common bond between the human animal and others, a focus on the body that I have also appreciated in his grandfather’s works.  Lucian was the son of Sigmund Freud’s son Ernst, who emigrated to London before the Anschluss.  Lucian refused to have his paintings shown in Austria for both personal and professional reasons having to do with the Holocaust, including the murder of 4 of his aunts, Sigmund’s sisters, in the concentration camps.  This exhibit represents the first ever in Austria, and is a distillation of just 30 paintings by him before his death 2 years ago.  The juxtaposition of his works to a gallery of Titian, whom Freud loved, adds to the personal intensity of the exhibit.

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About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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