Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thoughts on Lucien Freud at the Pompidou Museum.

I saw the Lucien Freud exhibition at the Pompidou Museum in Paris this weekend.

When I was working on my BFA at the University of Iowa I had a few professors who talked about both Lucien Freud and Susan Rothenberg with an almost religious fervor. Until this weekend I'd only ever seen Freud's work in glossy art books, so I was really looking forward to getting a chance to rediscover them in person.

What can I say? I have no doubt that C├ęcile Debray is one of the Pompidou's strongest curators. The show was good of course. Small and compact, but good, and filled with some pretty recent works. I know this all sounds a bit flat, but what else can I say that hasn't already been said better about Lucien Freud?

And to be honest, with the exception of the 3 garden, floral paintings, nothing in the entire exhibition really moved me too much. At least not in the same way that a Francis Bacon painting literally makes my heart race or how Alice Neel's paintings give me goosebumps while simultaneously making me cry on the inside.

Some random thoughts & commentaries I had about the show:

1. "I thought it would be much more impressive." I once heard a Texan say these exact words while standing at the foot of the Eiffel tower about 6 years ago. Now I know how he felt and I am sorry that I have been making fun of him for all these many years. Also, I though the paintings would be bigger. Literally bigger.

2. The exhibition audio guide was useless and annoying. I am a museum audio guide junkie, but after paying for this one--I wanted a refund. It's bad enough that I have to walk around looking like a complete freak-show wearing those stylish headphone sets circa 1986, so I most certainly don't like being talked down to by a palm-sized device with a posh British accent.

3. Almost all the paintings were framed behind glass. I'd never seen that before. Interesting and weird. I don't understand why this is so. (If anybody has insights please speak up in comments.)

4. The garden paintings were AMAZING. The color little mini earthquakes. While the rest of the masses were jockeying for position infront of the fleshy portraits, my husband and I stood mesmorized in front of them looking back and forth at eachother like "Holy crap. Are you seeing this!?"

5. I wish my paintings could make mini earthquakes.

That is all.


tonilee said...

I know nothing about Lucien Freud or his art. I looked at the last photo in this post, the garden one. I KNOW it's a pic of his art, so my next comment will sound (look?) strange. I thought it was a photo, and not a painting. You know how some paintings look "painted"? This one is simply beautiful.

I am really regretting that I take the fact that the wonderful Art Institute of Chicago is just a train ride away.

'Drea said...

The Texan's comment is kind of funny... Although, I sure that he was sincerely disappointed.

legrandezombie said...

I hate it when they put glass on pieces. I understand the protective impulse but it ruins everything-- there's no way you can light something without causing reflection. I would rather have two burly security goons standing on either side of me, seriously.

sprite said...

Lucien Freud is quite a popular or should I say- revered British artist. Some of his work is not really to my taste but it is stunning and hard to ignore. Not sure about the paintings of rubenesque women but his portraits are pretty good. I think he did a good one of Kate Moss.
The question about glass- could be simply a protective measure. Were the paintings on canvas or paper?

Madame K said...

Tonilee- I'm old school. I like my paintings to look painted and my photos to look like photos. I know. I'm a dinosaur.

Zombie & Sprite- At first I didn't notice the glass---but once I did I couldn't stop thinking about it. They are all oils on linen, less than 30 years old--not exactly fragile at this point. I'd love to ask somebody why. In all my years of gallery & museum viewing I've never seen this before. It totally bugged me out.