LONDON - London's Olympic year has presented museum directors and curators with an opportunity to showcase some of the greatest British art, with major exhibitions of David Hockney and Damien Hirst already underway or soon to open.
It’s Lucian Freud though who has really taken over the city at the moment. Firstly, there is a magnificent array of the late artist's portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery until the end of May. One of my favourite works is Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau), which was sold at Sotheby's New York in 1998 and has not been on public view since an exhibition at the Tate a decade ago.
Also featured is the last painting the artist worked on: Portrait of a Hound. The human sitter for that canvas, Freud’s assistant David Dawson, took extensive photographs of the notoriously private artist at work, which are in turn the subject of shows at both Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert in London and at Chicester’s Pallant House Gallery. Even through this relatively small window it is fascinating to get some idea of how the great artist worked.
Finally – and closer to home – an exceptional array of Freud’s drawings are featured in our own . Even more revealing than the photographs in terms of insight into the artist’s method, these works on paper give a compelling view onto Freud’s development as a draughtsman across four decades, from his early twenties to when he was in his mid-sixties. Furthermore, they are joined by works by Freud’s contemporaries Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, showing the strength of the works produced by the so-called School of London.
Olly Barker, who is particularly passionate about these artists, discusses these works in more depth in the video featured below.