Thursday, March 31, 2011


Girl with a White Dog, 1951-52 (first wife of Freud)

Grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud (born in 1922) is one of the most important living artists. His main subject is the human figure, and his raw, naturalistic style of painting depicts his subjects "not because  of what they are like... but what happen to be".

Lucian Freud - Pregnant Girl - 1961

Double Portrait, 1985-86

Around 1956 Freud started loosen his style, going from fine sable brushes to stiff hogshair brushes. Around the same time, Freud who used to work sitting, started painting only standing up, adding an energetic feel to his paintings. He started using the heavy granular pigment called cremnitz white for painting the flesh. 

Freud works slowly and only with live models. He was 85 when he completed Ria, naked portrait. He worked on this painting for 16 months, every day (seven days a week) from 18.30 in sittings of 4 hours. At 2 pm he had another sitting with another model. Amazing. Read the story of this portrait here:

The Painter Surprised by a Naked Admirer, 2004-05

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


"I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands."
"It is a great privilege to be able to work with, and I suppose work off, my feelings through sculpture." 
"An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing." 

Louise Bourgeois passed away on 31 of May 2010.  She lived an incredible life of 98 years. She had continued to create artwork until her death, her last pieces were finished the week before. The New York Times said that her work "shared a set of repeated themes, centered on the human body and its need for nurture and protection in a frightening world."

There is a film on her life and work called  The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine 

Nature Study
Fragile Godess

Arch of Hysteria

'My art is a form of restoration'

In a rare interview with one of the world's greatest living artists, Rachel Cooke asks Louise Bourgeois to reflect on her extraordinary career
RC: You moved to New York early in your career. What effect did this have?
LB: I was a 'runaway girl' from France who married an American and moved to New York City. I'm not sure I would have continued as an artist had I remained in Paris because of the family setup. In coming to New York, I was suddenly independent from them. I did feel the affects of being French. There was both isolation and stimulation. Homesickness was the theme of the early sculptures.
RC: Do you think women artists have an easier time of it today, particularly in terms of the market?
LB: To survive as an artist is difficult. The market is only one issue, and it follows its own logic. Even though what I do does enter the market, it doesn't interest me. I am exclusively concerned with the formal qualities of my work. It is about the need and the right to self-expression. There are plenty of good artists that don't have a market at all. In terms of the market, things have improved for women, but there is still a big disparity.
RC: The main focus of your work, according to some, is the relationship between an entity and its surroundings. But you have also been influenced by human relationships. Can you explain more about this aspect of your work?
LB: My works are portraits of a relationship, and the most important one was my mother. Now, how these feelings for her are brought into my interaction with other people, and how these feelings for her feed into my work is both complex and mysterious. I'm still trying to understand the mechanism.
RC: In the Fifties and Sixties, the art market ignored you a little. Was this frustrating? Was it connected to your sex? How and why did things change?
LB: The Fifties were definitely macho and the Sixties less so. The fact that the market was not interested in my work because I was a woman was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to work totally undisturbed. Don't forget that there were plenty of women in a position of power in the art world: women were trustees of museums, the owners of galleries, and many were critics. Surely, the Women's Movement affected the role of women in the art world. The art world is simply a microcosm of the larger world where men and women compete.
RC: Today, your most famous works might be your 'spider' structures. Is this pleasing? Can you talk a little about how they came about?
LB: The spiders were an ode to my mother. She was a tapestry woman, and like a spider, was a weaver. She protected me and was my best friend.
RC: Your parents worked with tapestry, and you initially studied mathematics. Some critics have traced both these influences in your work. How separate is the mathematician in you, from the artist, or are the two intimately connected?
LB: My love of geometry is expressed by the formal aspect of my work. From the tapestries, I got this large sense of scale. I learned their stories, the use of symbolism and art history. The restoration of the tapestries functioned on a psychological level as well. By this I mean that things that have broken down or have been ripped apart can be joined and mended. My art is a form of restoration in terms of my feelings to myself and to others.
RC: You work on a grand scale. Why?
LB: I want to create my own architecture so that the relationships of my forms and objects are fixed. Sometimes I need the large scale so that the person can literally move in relationship to the form. The difference between the real space and the psychological space interests me and I want to explore both. For example, the spiders, which are portraits of my mother, are large because she was a monument to me. I want to walk around and be underneath her and feel her protection.
RC: How do you feel now about Robert Mapplethorpe's famous photograph of you?
LB: I am still fond of Robert Mapplethorpe's portrait. People seem to like it very much because they thought Robert and I were both 'naughty'.
RC: Can you tell us a little of how you have worked over the years? Do you work only when inspiration strikes?
LB: I only work when I feel the need to express something. I may not be sure of exactly what it is, but I know that something is cooking and when I am on the right track. The need is very strong. To express your emotions, you have to be very loose and receptive. The unconscious will come to you, if you have that gift that artists have. I only know if I'm inspired by the results.
RC: A retrospective at the Tate. This isn't the first, but how does it make you feel? Have you ended up making any reassessments of your career?
LB: When I see all the work that I have produced, I realised how consistent and persistent I have been. But I'm much more interested in what I'm working on now.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MARK ROTHKO (1903-1970)

We went to London to see Lucian Freud exhibition and I was overjoyed to find out that there was a Rothko exhibition going on as well. We took the tube to Whitechapel Gallery, and breathless I went straight to the first level to meet Rothko in person. There it was, dominating the room, one gigantic painting in red with bleeding edges over black. I didn't know what to think at first, there was only one painting, I looked at it impatiently, and then I checked the other rooms. No trace of other Rothko. I asked, and yes, there was only one piece. Who announces a Rothko exhibition and shows one piece... And though the one painting was the most amazing painting I have ever seen, it filled the room, the gallery, the whole London, and the whole world. It was one gigantic heart, bleeding and pulsating, waiting there in silence, like something terrible was going to happen. There was no peace, there was war, there was something extremely moving and tormenting, deep in myself. And there I was, crying, like for the whole world, for once not for myself, but for something vital, much larger and much more important than me, for something I couldn't understand.

"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."

I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on."

"It was with the utmost reluctance that I found the figure could not serve my purposes. But a time came when none of us could use the figure without mutilating it."

"Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative."

"I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however – I think it applies to other painters I know – is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it."

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