Lucian Freud passed away on Wednesday at his home in London following a brief illness, the New York Times’s William Grimes reports. William Acquavella of Acquavella Galleries, Freud’s dealer, informed the Times of the cause of death. Freud was eighty-eight-years old.
The grandson of Sigmund Freud, the painter is often credited with reframing the genre of portraiture and laying a new foundation for figurative art. Born in Berlin 1922, Freud grew up in a wealthy neighborhood and moved to London in 1933 after Hitler came to power. He had little interest in school, aspiring instead to become a jockey, but after creating a sandstone sculpture of a horse, was accepted into the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. A year later he transferred to the East Anglian School of Drawing and Painting in Dedham where he studied with the painter Cedric Morris.
Grimes notes that “Freud was a bohemian of the old school. He set up his studios in squalid neighborhoods, developed a Byronic reputation as a rake and gambled recklessly.” (“Debit stimulates me,” Freud once said). In 1941, Freud enlisted in the Merchant Navy in hopes of moving to New York. He later married he Kitty Garman, the daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein. Garman is the subject of a number of his portraits, for example, Girl With Roses and Girl With a Kitten, both 1947, and Girl With a White Dog, 1950-51. “I’ve got a strong autobiographical bias,” Freud once told the British art critic William Feaver. “My work is entirely about myself and my surroundings.” Garman and Freud later divorced and the artist married Lady Caroline Blackwood, a marriage that ended in divorce as well. He is survived by many children from his first marriage and from a series of romantic relationships.
While Freud is known for his portraiture, he created a handful of Surrealist works, notably The Painter’s Room, 1943. He later denounced the genre, telling the art critic Robert Hughes, “I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me. That would be a pointless lie, a mere bit of artfulness.”
Grimes writes that “Freud remained deeply unfashionable in the United States for many decades” but gained popularity in 1987 after the Hirshorn exhibited his work in a show that was rejected by all other New York museums. The exhibition was a “watershed event.” The art critic Robert Hughes declared Freud to be “the greatest living realist painter,” and a Freud soon earned a dedicated following in the United States. Six years later the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized a retrospective of his work.
“Freud has generated a life’s worth of genuinely new painting that sits obstinately across the path of those lesser painters who get by on less,” says Feaver, who organized a 2002 Freud retrospective at Tate Britain. “He always pressed to extremes, carrying on further than one would think necessary and rarely letting anything go before it became disconcerting.”
The Associated Press reports that the Rubin Museum in New York has been awarded a Henry Luce Foundation grant amounting to $270,000. The grant, distributed over the next three years, will support the work of David Jackson, a consulting curator at the museum and a scholar of Tibetan Buddhist painting. Specifically, the grant will fund three of eight exhibition catalogs planned, each examining a different school of Tibetan painting, all of them primarily featuring works from the museum’s collection.
In the past fiscal year that ended June 30, writes Carol Vogel in the New York Times, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was attended by 5.7 million people: the highest number of visitors in forty years. The museum credits its blockbuster Alexander McQueen and Picasso shows as well as Big Bambú, the installation created by Doug and Mike Starn. Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director, also said that the museum benefited from strong tourism. He added, “While these exhibitions are certainly getting high attendance, they are only part of a roster of shows and collections that people are coming to see.”
Martin Roth, former director of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden bid a grand auf wiedersehen to Dresden and government representatives in the presence of artists such as Gerhard Richter and Georg Baselitz. Monopol reports that the fifty-six-year-old Roth is assuming the position of director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, thus becoming the first German to run a top museum in Britain. Before he goes, Monopol reflects on his distinguished career in Dresden, where he actively modernized the museum’s collection as well as the city’s cultural relations. His career in Dresden began in 1991 at the Deutsches Hygiene Museum, and he joined the Kunstsammlungen in 2001. According to the paper, Roth has established a legacy that will be hard to match.
Monopol also reports on the recently opened Museum of Contemporary Art Kraków (MOCAK), which has undertaken an examination of Poland’s history, especially that having to do with the Nazi occupation and Jewish diaspora, in its inaugural show “History in Art.” Immediately upon entering the show one sees the ominous phrase WORK SETS YOU FREE, a piece by Polish artist Grzegorz Klaman that references Auschwitz. The show is particularly apropos for the space, according to the paper, since it is built on the property that was once the enamel factory of Oskar Schindler. The show runs through September 25, 2011.
France is also exploring its national heritage, though in a quite different way. The Louvre has been selected as the opérateur principal of the Hôtel de la Marine, a French landmark building built by Louis XV on the Place de la Concorde. The building will be vacated by the Marine’s management staff in 2014 and recommissioned, under Henri Loyrette, the director of the Louvre, as a gallery space for Trésor français (French national treasures), such as the crown jewels and other holdings from the national collection. However, the answer of who will be financing the renovations remains elusive. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former president and member of the Constitutional Council of France, wishes for the work to cost the French taxpayer nothing, but the original plan to finance the renovations by privatizing the space seems to be no longer an option. Le Monde’s Florence Evin notes that the ultimate decision is in Nicolas Sarkozy’s hands, but no answer is expected before the 2012 presidential elections.
It seems that France has lately taken a serious interest in photography. Claire Guillot writes in Le Monde about the multiple initiatives undertaken by the French to facilitate exhibition space for photography as well as the development of a national photographic archive. During the Rencontres d’Arles, culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand announced several measures in favor of photography such as renovation of spaces dedicated to exhibiting photography like the Hôtel de Nevers. Furthermore, a state-funded site named Arago, launching in November 2011, has made it a mission to unite the archives of libraries, museums, and other public institutions online for research purposes. The minister also announced a program of reimbursable loans to photojournalists for a course of three years beginning in 2012 to protect the integrity of journalism.
Joseph Ax reports in Reuters that Leigh Morse, a former art gallery director for Lawrence Salander, has been ordered to pay $1.65 million in restitution for defrauding clients. Ax writes that Morse “was found guilty in April of selling more than eighty works of art from four estates for approximately $5 million without informing the owners.” She did avoid the several-year prison term sought by prosecutors, and instead will be confined on weekends for four months, while also serving probation for five years. Morse apologized, saying she was “deeply sorry” for her client’s pain, but also continued to attest that she was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the sales. Artforum.com’s coverage of Morse’s arrest two years ago can be found here.
The 2011 Daniel Frese Prize for contemporary art has been awarded to Diego Castro. Katja Staats has won the prize for young emerging artists. Each year, a call for proposals for the prize is issued with a theme, this year’s being “art and its markets.” Castro and Staats will exhibit their proposed projects beginning in November in the Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg. The prize jury commended Castro, saying he “succeeds not only in making visible a reflection of his own artistic practice in the mirror of its commodification, but also to translate this reflection into an apt spatial image.”
Czech painter Zdenek Sykora, who produced computer-generated compositions in the 1960s, has died. He was ninety-one. Sykora was an active member of Krizovatka (Crossroads), a group of artists who organized around the poet and painter Jiri Kolar at the Slavia Cafe in Prague. Sykora began painting in the 1950s and gained international attention for his complex series of interweaving lines that were produced from mathematical equations on computer and the capriciousness of hand painting. He went on to teach art at Charles University in Prague and was one of the subjects of Jaroslav Brabec’s documentary on Czech television in 2001. Christopher Masters of the The Guardian quotes Sykora speaking on his own work: “The more I wish my paintings to be just what they are, the more they are everything.”
The Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, have awarded the artist Diego Castro the Daniel Frese Prize for Contemporary Art. Artist Katja Staats also won the prize for young emerging artists. The artists will participate in an exhibition at the Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg. This annual award is named after the painter and cartographer Daniel Frese. In regards to Castro’s work the jury noted that he “succeeds not only in making visible a reflection of his own artistic practice in the mirror of its commodification, but also to translate this reflection into an apt spatial image.”
The University of the Arts London will award honorary degrees to artist Anthony Eyton, architect Zaha Hadid, Whitechapel Art Gallery director Iwona Blazwick, BBC News director Helen Boaden, Cheek By Jowl Theatre founder Declan Donnellan, and musicians Jarvis Cocker and Jeff Beck. According to James Lachno of the Daily Telegraph, the recipients will be honored July 20 alongside this year’s graduating class at a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London.