Lucian Freud, a contemporary painter of the human form and grandson of Sigmund Freud, died on July 20th. In what is generally considered the final act of an early 21st century life, Freud’s Wikipedia page was updated earlier today by an editor named Cynwolfe.
Freud was born in Berlin in 1922 which meant for a time he shared a city with artists whose work I see echoed in his – Otto Dix and George Grosz. Like those icons of Weimar Berlin, Freud depicted his subjects in a brutally honest manner that may have made Sigmund smile but generally resulted in an unflattering portrait. But where Dix and Grosz may have mocked the human condition in a jaded manner that was formed by war, Freud was generally more sympathetic.
Freud’s portraits were often free of judgement and unlike his grandfather, he avoided psychoanalysis. He said everything he did was autobiographical. In many ways, it was all a self-portrait. As the critic William Feaver once observed, Freud restored portraiture to its “proper place” with depictions of all types of people, not simply wealthy men and their pampered wives.