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Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud Paperback – September 9, 2013
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― The New York Times Book Review
"Amazing. . . . It’s so fascinating to be inside Freud’s mind."
― The Boston Globe
About the Author
- ASIN : 0500289719
- Publisher : Thames & Hudson; First Paperback Edition (September 9, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 248 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780500289716
- ISBN-13 : 978-0500289716
- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,486,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Lucian Freud died in London in July, 2011, at the age of 88. I knew very little about his work and the little I knew of him was basically that he was a grandson of Sigmund Freud and that he had been married to the writer Caroline Blackwood. While looking into books about Freud, I saw this relatively recently published book by Martin Gayford, telling of his serving as a subject for a Freud portrait. In all, Gayford sat for Freud in his London studio about 16 months as Freud painted his portrait. At the same time Freud was painting Gayford, he had several other on-going portraits he was working on.
Well, if Freud could paint, Gayford can write. He compares his own sitting as a subject to the other subjects Freud had worked on over the years. Gayford puts styles to pictures and gives a marvelous overview to Freud's long career. In their sittings, Freud and Gayford spent long hours talking about Freud, his career, his life and loves, and his interests in life. While I assume the conversations were two-sided, Gayford recounts the gist of the conversations from Freud's view. And while comparing Freud's work to others, both past and present, who have influenced Freud, the book usually includes pictures of the paintings being written about.
Martin Gayford has written not so much an art book, but more a "memoir" of Lucian Freud and these 16 months spent by artist and subject. It's a marvelous book. (As is the finished portrait, which did not go to Gayford, but rather into a collection of a California couple. Evidently, the subject only poses; the finished painting goes elsewhere.)
Now I want to see the portrait.
Definitely one of the more enjoyable books that I have read in a while. A must if you follow Lucian Freud and want to learn a little bit more of the man and the artist. Most enjoyable.
Top reviews from other countries
account of sitting for a portrait by Lucian Freud. Intimate, intelligent and enlightening; as
far as biography goes it’s up there with James Lord’s equally insightful chronicle of being
painted by the impassioned Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (‘A Giacometti Portrait’, 1965).
The multiple sittings over months reveal a great deal about Freud’s fastidious working
method; their conversations a great deal more about a man who never gave much away.
Mr Gayford’s book creates a refreshing balance with Mail On Sunday editor Geordie Grieg’s
decidedly sordid 2015 warts-and-all “portrait” of the artist, ‘Breakfeast With Lucien’, which
seemed to me to have been contaminated by the author’s sycophancy and appetite for scandal.
Like Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf or Miles Davis in their own different ways, Lucian Freud seems to have possessed a personality that guarantees engaging writing from others, whatever the quality or context. As it is though, this is a beautifully written work in its own right. The rooms in which Freud painted, and the changing light and shade within these, are evoked with vivid atmosphere, yet are never overly detailed. As the seasons progress along with the painting (with some uncertain, occasionally frustrating moments in the latter's emergence discussed), the contact between the sitter and the artist develops quite movingly.
Gayford creates a compelling sense of what it was like to be in Freud's company, and, through the artist's own comments as recalled in the narrative, the book is richly, if fragmentarily, informative about an extraordinarily eventful life. Gayford appears utterly respectful and discrete. It would have been intriguing to have read more about what others might have told or asked Gayford about the enigmatic Freud, but it's a tribute to the author's integrity that the focus is entirely on the two men's own interactions.
I finished the book in a day or so, several months ago, but continue to enjoy reopening it at random. Inevitably, this is likely to be an important book for anyone interested in Freud and indeed in painting, but I can confidently imagine it being a pleasure to read for people who (like myself) have read relatively little about painting and painters.(It could make an excellent present).
What I find most interesting is the way in which Freud has moved from being a member of some sort of Brtish Avant-Garde in the fifties (friendship with Francis Bacon and so on) to being an almost traditional painter who is grappling with the formal problems of putting paint on canvas in a way which would have been quite familiar to Sickert or Manet or even Turner.
The book as an object is very pleasing. The dust-jacket is attractive with a small reproducton of the finished portrait on the front, the book itself beautifully produced with illustrations in the appropriate place within the text. It feels as if it was laid out by someone who really cared. At the (Amazon) price it's amazing.