Including oils, works on paper, etchings, copper plates, and photographs by David Dawson
In 1982 Lucian Freud returned to printmaking after a long break of over three decades. By this point he was fifty and had already gained significant critical acclaim for his visceral portraits, landscapes and still life paintings. In an effort to shed further light upon the often isolated understanding of Freud’s printmaking practice, this exhibition brings together twenty etchings shown alongside related paintings, drawings and photographs. Beginning with the tender depictions of his mother made at the very start of his renewed interest in printmaking, the show encompasses etchings right through to the final decade of his life.
Freud would often start an etching after he had completed a painting, working directly from the model in a similar way to his oils by standing the copper plate upright on the easel like a canvas. Unlike painting or drawing, however, etching presented greater risks. The success or failure of the many months working on the soft copper surface was realised in the first proofing. On display here are some of the etching plates which did not work, rejected and subsequently scratched out, offering an unedited view of the artist’s process.
Shown alongside Freud’s own work are photographs taken by his close friend and studio assistant of over twenty years, David Dawson. Exhibited for the first time, they capture the poignant final months of Freud’s life. Although there is a striking absence of the human form in many of these images, the artist’s presence is very much felt as the viewer is offered a rare glimpse into his home and his art collection. In this way they seem to capture a sense of time beyond the physical works and offer a uniquely intimate posthumous encounter with the artist. When considering the photographs and Freud’s own work together, the richly interwoven nature of his practice and the power of his intense scrutiny as an artist becomes all the more apparent.