Another Giant Departs: Lucien Freud, 1922-2011
July 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
The death of painter Lucien Freud yesterday leaves a large hole in the contemporary art world. For many painters today, Freud was the perfect answer to the dogmatism of critic Clement Greenberg (1909-94), whose views on the end of “easel art” and the human figure as subject matter, dominated not only the museums and galleries of recent decades, but also the teaching of art throughout the world. According to Greenberg the figure, as subject, was dead. In fact, any depiction of depth, or illusionism in painting, was held by him to be passe`, an historical anachronism. Lucien Freud was certainly not alone in his defiance of such absurd positions but, in his determined fidelity to the figure as subject for his art, in his insistence on the “anachronism” of direct observation, and, most importantly, in what he was able to do with paint to express the multiple layers and complexities of his subject, Freud was one of the greatest living painters of our generation.