The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth often has artists visit when their works are exhibited there, but that won’t be an option for Lucian Freud: Portraits. The painter (and grandson of Sigmund Freud) died last year at the age of 88, having established himself as one of the great British artists of the 20th century. The retrospective that opens this week at the Modern now serves as a memorial.
After initially dabbling in German expressionism and surrealism (which he later dismissed out of hand), Freud stuck tenaciously to portraiture during the height of abstract painting. He always insisted that his subjects be physically present while he painted them, and he’d often keep them at his studio for long hours until fatigue and exhaustion set in and they lost all self-consciousness. His models were often nude, and at times Freud would clean off his brush after each stroke to achieve the mottled flesh tones that are the hallmark of his style. Besides the impasto on his paintings, Freud is known for the psychological acuity with which he captures his subjects’ personalities.
Freud remained controversial until the end, as witnessed by the foofaraw over his typically craggy official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. Yet his greatness remains unassailable. What better way to honor the man than to see his work this summer.
Lucian Freud: Portraits runs Jul 1-Oct 28 at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Admission is $4-10. Call 817-738-9215.