David Dawson guides the BBC through our Lucian Freud book
Freud archive director David Dawson talked about posing, paintings and placing bets for the great artist
David Dawson’s work for Lucian Freud has extended well beyond the artist’s studio. Dawson, who assisted Freud from 1991 until the artist’s death in July 2011, served as sitter and aide, and is now director of the Lucian Freud Archive, and the co-author of our authoritative, two-volume Freud book – the most comprehensive publication to date on one of the greatest painters of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
However, Dawson also wasn’t averse to nipping down to the local betting shop to place a wager for the painter. As Dawson told BBC Newsnight - the channel's daily UK late night news and feature programme - in a recent segment on Freud, broadcast a few days ago to coincide with the publication of the book, those bets could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds. That’s a huge amount to risk on a horse race, yet as Dawson explained to the BBC’s culture correspondent Steve Smith, Freud “lived by” this high-risk approach – thriving on “being fearless, not being scared of anything, coming back and wanting to make the best painting he ever could.”
Freud certainly succeeded. During the years Dawson spent beside the great man, he can remember thinking, “No one is painting as good as this anywhere in the world. The very heart of painting was in the room. What he was doing was so remarkable that it was worth hanging around for. I really wanted to see what he was going to do next.”
Dawson gave the BBC a glimpse into Freud’s Notting Hill studio, which remains unchanged since the artist died, and leafed through our exquisite new double volume book in front of the cameras. “In some of the portraits it’s like you’re sharing the same breath as the painting,” explains Dawson.
To see the interview go here, and to see those portraits up close, order a copy of Dawson’s new Lucian Freud book here.