This first major exhibition of Lucian Freud’s work in ten years is held to mark the centenary of his birth. The exhibition, which opens in October 2022 at the National Gallery and in February 2023 in Madrid, features around 50 works that span seven decades of art by one of the most important European artists of the 20th century.
The Evolution of Freud’s Approach Through the Centuries
Freud’s fame has frequently obscured critical approaches to the artist’s work and the historical conditions in which it was created. This exhibition aims to give new perspectives on Freud’s art, with a focus on his tireless and ever-searching dedication to the medium of painting.
Visitors to The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will have the chance to view the astounding breadth of Freud’s work and the amazing artistic growth in one of Britain’s finest figurative painters, from his most personal images to his famed large-scale canvases.
With his portraits of the powerful, such as HM Queen Elizabeth II (2001, lent by Her Majesty the Queen from the Royal Collection), the artist established himself in the lineage of famous Court Painters like Rubens (1577-1640) or Velázquez (1599–1660). At the same time, he gave close attention to sitters who were not well-known to the public, such as his own mother, whose passing was movingly captured on camera.
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In his later years, Freud frequently framed his subjects in home settings as well as in his paint-spattered workshop, which doubled as both a set and a subject for his paintings. The show culminates in some of Freud’s monumental naked portraits, which luxuriate in the representation of the human form and demonstrate how his approach evolved throughout the 20th and early 21st century.
“I use the Gallery as if it were a doctor” – Freud
The Credit Suisse Exhibition – Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will feature over 65 loans from museums and major private collections across the world, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate in London, the British Council Collection in London, and the Arts Council Collection in London.
Beginning with Becoming Freud, which features the 1945 paintings Woman with a Daffodil and Woman with a Tulip from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, United States (Private Collection), this first section highlights the artist’s early and widespread reception. It focusses on works exhibited at the renowned Venice and Sao Paolo Biennials of the 1950s, as well as on early institutional acquisitions.
A devoted admirer of European painting and regular visitor since his earliest days in London, Lucian Freud had a close association with the National Gallery. “I use the Gallery as if it were a doctor,” Freud stated. “I come for ideas and help – to look at situations within paintings, rather than whole paintings. Often these situations have to do with arms and legs, so the medical analogy is actually right.”
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: “The Freud centenary exhibition at the National Gallery offers the opportunity to reconsider the artist’s achievement in the broader context of the tradition of European painting. He was a frequent visitor to the gallery whose paintings challenged and inspired him.”
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery and the Museo Nacional Thyssen- Bornemisza, Madrid. It will be shown at the Thyssen from 14 February 2023 to 18 June 2023, following its display at the National Gallery.