Lucian Freud Story One - The Meeting

In our intitnal sotry we've found out how David Dawson met Lucian Freud - a meeting that was to spark a twenty year ...between the two men with Dawson acting as Lucian's assistant after meeting him while working with Lucian's London dealer James Kirkman.


Here David tells us a little bit more of the detail of LIVING WITH LUCIAN


"I felt very at ease with him and I really liked his energy and his fun. He just made you want to be around him. He always had something very quick to say and very interesting and he was very lively.

I wasn’t nervous around him. Nervous only in that healthy way. It was surprising that I felt completely at ease with him. Always. 


How much did the relationship develop/ grow.


He was parting ways with James Kirkman who’d been his dealer for 25 years. It was like a divorce. I was around them at the time and when they did finally split, and Lucian asked me to go with him.

My idea after coming out of the Royal College had been to go to New York. Eighties New York was quite lively so that’s where I was heading. But when I walked in and saw Lucian’s paintings I just knew instantly that there was no one anywhere doing anything near this. It changed my direction completely.

I didn’t really want to get caught up in art dealing or go down that route of becoming a dealer. It was interesting to know about the market and dealing but it was clear to me I was not going to make a career from that side of the arts. I wanted to make stuff and I was going to be a painter and I was very interested in hanging out with painters. It was more natural for me to go with Lucian.


He was always surprising! He always kept his doors closed in every room, but after three or four weeks of going round to his flat, one morning he said 'come into my studio'. And it blew me away. At the time he was doing these big portraits of Leigh Bowery. Who I knew from nightclub days, so I just walked into this small room at the top of a house in West London and there were these large seven foot paintings of this naked man and it was just the most intense thing, it really stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself there’s no one better at this moment anywhere painting like this. This is the best painter going. I just knew what he needed and how I could help in making sure that happened. 


Was there a  dominant submission thing.

It was never sexual. It was a dynamic of really strong male friendship. I was 30 and he was 69 and it was a dynamic of male friendship. Nothing sexual ever. But the bond was the male friendship and just the love of painting. I was really excited for my own painting and being with painters so seeing him at his very, very best was for me something remarkable. 


I was aware of Lucian’s paintings and I realised how good they were when I was a student but I was looking at American painters more. I thought they had more excitement in them or were more contemporary. So when I came across Lucian’s paintings in the flesh it was profoundly moving. You didn’t have to analyse it or theorise it,  it just moved you in your gut. It was really special. I was aware that he was at his height and I knew all he wanted to do was paint so I knew I could help him by organising everything around him.