Lucian Freud’s changing style goes under microscope at the National Gallery

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Fresh take: Girl With Roses will be among the works on display (© The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.)
Fresh take: Girl With Roses will be among the works on display (© The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images.)

A blockbuster exhibition celebrating Lucian Freud is to be staged at the National Gallery in what would have been the artist’s 100th year.

Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will bring together the artist’s most important works from across seven decades, including Girl With Roses — an early piece from the Forties — and Reflection With Two Children, from the Sixties.

A selection of his late works will also be included in a bid to show how Freud’s style changed through the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It will culminate in some of his nude portraits from towards the end of his life.

The exhibition’s curator Daniel Herrmann said the collection was intended to showcase the artist behind the celebrity and provide new perspectives on Freud’s work, with a particular focus on his dedication to painting.

By showing works from intimate pictures to large-scale canvases, it will detail the influence Freud had as one of Britain’s finest figurative painters.

The show includes more than 60 loans from museums and private collections around the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Tate and the Arts Council Collection.

Mr Herrmann, who worked on the exhibition with Paloma Alarcó, chief curator of modern painting at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, said: “The National was Lucian Freud’s favourite gallery.

“We wanted to have an exhibition that makes use of the idea of discovering new things. There have been a number of exhibitions about Freud. But we felt that we could contribute something that other galleries cannot.

“We are going to present new perspectives on Freud to a new generation of people and artists.”

He added: “With someone like Freud, the discussion about his work from the Eighties onwards has been very much about his celebrity.

“He came from a famous family, and that is important and interesting, but it is also time to look at his painting.”

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery, added: “The exhibition 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 National Gallery, whose paintings challenged and inspired him.”

The Credit Suisse Exhibition — Lucian Freud: New Perspectives will run from October 1, 2022 to January 22, 2023. The exhibition will then be shown at the Thyssen-Bornemisza from February 14-June 18, 2023; nationalgallery.org.uk

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