Freud at Work
(By Bruce Bernard and David Dawson; Knopf; 254 pages; $65 cloth)
Obsessed with the heft of human flesh, British artist Lucian Freud paints models whose size exceeds the classical norm for the nude. This collection of photographs, taken over 20 years by Bruce Bernard and the painter's assistant David Dawson, expands our understanding of Freud by showing him at work, his partially completed canvases side by side with his subjects. We see the lean, almost wizened Freud looking at the camera while taking a break from filling in the brush strokes on the capacious back of model Leigh Bowery. To the left, Bowery, built like an offensive lineman gone to seed, offers a knowing glance of complicity over his shoulder. Some of the subjects (Queen Elizabeth with her hands properly folded) look a bit wary about what they gotten themselves into. It doesn't help that Freud's wipe rag, tucked into his waist and spotted with paint stains, resembles a butcher's apron. Ironically, the only skinny model is Freud's dog Eli, an elegant whippet, who lounges on an easy chair.
Review by Michael S. Gant
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