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05 Mar 2020

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Reviewed by Franklin Einspruch

Lucian Freud basically failed his way out of surrealism, for which he didn't have the imagination. But that led him from interesting if sometimes prissy early works to a thoroughly observational art of which he was one of the great practitioners of the last 120 years. "Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits" contains samples from the whole oeuvre.

The show is small, having been deprived of works that couldn't travel from the Royal Academy of Arts. (To its credit it includes others that weren't in London.) It hangs spaciously in the modest Torf Gallery.

Yet it could stand to be even smaller. A few of the pictures, distractingly, are not self-portraits in any obvious way. Several that are, are unfinished. His method was to put the eyes in a sensible place and paint outward. Incomplete paintings reveal smudges of charcoal on otherwise blank canvas, but no inner workings.

Nevertheless, one of the strongest of the pre-Cremnitz White works, Hotel Bedroom (1954), is here, on loan from New Brunswick. And the 2002 front-lit self-portrait could match anything in the building on sheer gravitas.

Exhibition Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits link
Start date 01 Mar 2020
End date 25 May 2020
Presenter Museum of Fine Arts, Boston link
Venue 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, USA map
Image Lucian Freud, Self‑Portrait, Reflection, 2002, oil on canvas, private Collection, © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images

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