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Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud Hardcover – October 15, 2010
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The book not only gives fascinating inside information as tot he artist/model relationship complete with sketches and in progress images of the sessions, but it also provides an intelligent well written dissertation on the process Gayford observed of the portrait building atmosphere. He also reflects on the various practices of other painters such as Mondrian, Goya, Chardin, Michelangelo, Vermeer and others and provides a treasure trove of anecdotes of the famous people Freud has encountered and at at times painted such as Francis Bacon, WH Auden, Picasso, and even Freud's grandfather, the great Sigmund Freud. The numerous photographs and reproduction of Freud's paintings are well presented. This is one of those 'art books' that is as successful a study of art technique as it is a memoir and biography and study of the history of art. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, February 11
The warmth and companionship shared between these two men is palpable as we are allowed to 'listen-in' to their wonderful conversations on art and life. I found myself laughing out loud at some of 'LF's deadpan comments about fellow artists he has known - and at aged 81 he has lived long enough to have been acquainted with Picasso as well as with Damien Hirst. He also recalls gangsters he met while living in the east end in his younger days, and wealthy friends of his grandfather in Paris - with equal razor sharp commentary. Through the conversations we get to understand a little more about LFs philosophy, and he comes across as 100% devoted to his work, very insightful about people and a risk taker who revels in pushing the boundaries. Martin Gayford - as the model - chronicles both an enlightening observation of the mechanics of how LF works (including transcribing his mutterings and footwork!), and also an honest (and equally witty) observation of his own emotional fluctuations throughout the process as he wonders how the portrait will turn out and in what light it will show him.
Finally - deep inside the humour and the observations is a pretty big question about the nature of a portrait and whether it can ever represent the sitter, or only a fleeting aspect of them, or is really a reflection of the artist.
This is a book I will come back to again - one reading is not enough to peel back the layers.