Lucian Freud, Painter of Radical Realism, Dies at 88

Lucian Freud, Painter of Radical Realism, Dies at 88

Lucian Freud, one of the most revered and respected contemporary painters, passed away on Wednesday night at his home in London, according to a statement from his dealer William Acquavella. He was 88.

"My family and I mourn Lucian Freud not only as one of the great painters of the twentieth century but also as a very dear friend," the statement reads. "As the foremost figurative artist of his generation he imbued both portraiture and landscape with profound insight, drama and energy. In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty. He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world."

Freud, the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was born in Berlin on December 8, 1922, moving to London after the rise of Hitler in 1933. After the war, he came into his own artistically, and is commonly associated with the so-called School of London of figurative art, which also encompassed such contemporaries as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, R.B. Kitaj, and David Hockney.

His early work had the look of Surrealism, sometimes incorporating eerie figures with abnormally large eyes. However, Freud became most celebrated for his brand of grueling and uncompromisingly realistic portraiture, often depicting his subjects in the nude with ruthless clarity. After 1956, he began working with a hog's hair brush, leading to a rougher look that amplified the sense of rough-hewn reality in his pictures.

Most often he dedicated his attention in his works to friends. Among his most famous paintings are from the series he devoted to the performance artist and transvestite Leigh Bowery, begun in 1990, which stand as powerful testament to unconventional beauty.

In 2008, his painting "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping" (1995) set a record for a work by a living artist at auction, selling for $33.6 million (£17.2 million) at Christie's in New York. Institutions that have featured retrospectives of his famous work include the Tate (2002), the Museum of Modern Art (2007), and the Centre Pompidou (2010).