And so I battled the snow and headed into a very cold Sunday morning.
Unaware of the majority of Lucian Freud’s work, I am a little embarressed to say, I was eager to discover just what his enormous collection stretching from the beginning to the recent end of his career, had instore.
Numbered and easy to follow (easier if you’re already familiar his work I’m sure), the National Portrait Gallery has done a wonderful job compiling such a vast and interesting collection.
Beginning with Freud’s earlier more finely detailed driven pieces notably featuring his first and second wife, Kitty and Caroline, (and many lovers in-between), passing iconic figures and portraits such as, Big Sue and Leigh Bowery, the collection halts to an abrupt and untimely end with his final unfinished piece, Portrait of the hound.
There is a haunting quality to this painting that just had to be there. It is the unfinished limbs and bodies of the man and dog fading into the white of the canvas that appear so prominently poignant.
And, it is also the contradictory coming-to-life through Freud’s own limbs at work that reassures us this huge body of work and life won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Highlights of the collection for me include; the chronologically ordered self portraits of Freud revealing both a change in body and character, as well as artistic style, his early surrealist portraits of first wife Kitty and a playful and revealing photograph, dotted between rooms, of Freud painting his more well known portrait of the Queen, uncovering a vulnerable and captivating atmosphere only a true artist could bring out.
Unknowing and unable to say no to a sneak peek I was pleasantly surprised to find such an interesting and accessible exhibition.
Running until 27th May, this imprresively comprehensive collection is not to be missed.