Lucian Freud Story Two - Late Bloomer/ the rise of

Lucian Freud Story Two - later bloomer/ the rise of 


Already done the meeting and the .... in which we learned how David was set for a life in NY as a painter, here he recounts how .......


How successful was in ‘the market’ then?

He was sort of known but not very. There was talk of these big paintings of Leigh Bowery happening but no one had seen them. So it was sort of … it was when (Bill) Acquavella, his New York dealer, came into his studio a year later and saw them and took them all to America. That’s when Lucian really kicked off. And it just happened. It was not manufactured by the art industry.

He had a show at the Met in New York but it wasn’t orchestrated by dealers this was about people queuing up on word of mouth. It was a very healthy way of people wanting to see art. It wasn’t constructed. It was people wanting to see his paintings.


He was 70 by then. He had a bit of fame in his youth and then in the Sixties everyone went pop art and abstraction. And everyone thought he was just dead in the water but he ignored all that. It sort of gave him freedom he could just get on with things quietly without anyone knowing. It suited him and it suited his personality. He had these decades of total freedom and he really went for it. So at 70 I could see him really coming into his own and making these monumental large paintings.


So when you realised what you could do for this guy, what sort of things did you actually start to do?

They would be errands really. He’d say I want these canvases at these sizes so I’d arrange to get them made. I’d get them stretched. I’d prime all the canvases. He’d say these are the paints I usually use, keep an eye on the paint cupboard. Just very practical little things. He didn’t have to explain everything to me so it was quick. I’m a painter so I knew what he used and what he needed and which ones he used the most. So I would buy what was needed to keep his paint cupboard full.


I got an insight into how many hours a day he worked. He really put the hours in, everyday. He would work all morning, rest in the afternoon and work until one in the morning.

Seven days a week every day of the year. He would maybe see one or two people in the afternoon and then occasionally have drinks with someone in the evening. Not often though. He would put his painting first. It was only him who touched the canvas. I didn’t touch the canvases at all. Every brush mark on his canvases are his. Whereas a lot of other contemporary artists get assistants to do things.

 And when he was painting someone the door was always closed. It was always just him and the model in the studio working.