Lucian Freud

Drawings 1940


February 4 - April 26, 2003
523 W 24 Street


Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce Lucian Freud: Drawings 1940, the next exhibition at his gallery at 523 West 24th Street.

The exhibition will consist of 168 drawings made by the painter Lucian Freud in 1940. The drawings are being exhibited here for the first time.

Freud made these drawings during the first winter of World War II, when he was 17 years old. The majority of them were made in Capel Curig, Wales, where Freud was renting a room in a retired miner's house with a friend from art school, David Kentish, and the poet Stephen Spender. Freud spent his days painting, his evenings drawing by lamplight while Kentish and Spender worked alongside. Influenced by Spender's lightheartedness and Kentish's brooding character, the work is at once playful and ponderous, as the writer Sebastian Smee notes:

"There is indeed a demotic spirit running through all the Welsh drawings. Invention was key, and private, running jokes constituted fertile points of departure…. There are flying fish; elephants on the loose in town; birds' feet with shoes like rubber gloves; a drainpipe shooting body parts from the grisly 'Murder house'; risible tourists, and references to The Times personal ads, some of which Freud actually incorporated into his drawings." At the same time, "[t]he line in many of the drawings feels slow, almost geological, like cracks in stone or old walls – not so much meandering as FORCED in unexpected directions. Many of the portraits suggest an equivalent pressure of consciousness behind the subject's close-packed eyes."

In addition to portraits of Spender and Kentish, the drawings include portraits of Freud's mother, the literary critic Cyril Connolly, self-portraits, still-lifes, and several drawings after El Greco, inspired by a book he brought with him on his trip to Wales. Even at this early stage, Freud took as his subject matter his friends and family and the things around him.

Lucian Freud was born in 1922, grew up in Berlin, and moved to England with his family at the age of ten. His father was an architect and a son of Sigmund Freud. In June of 2002, the Tate Gallery in London opened a major retrospective of Freud's work, which then traveled to Fundació "La Caixa" in Barcelona and which opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, its only U.S. venue, on February 9th, 2003.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a hardcover book reproducing all 168 drawings actual size and including an essay by Sebastian Smee.

Lucian Freud: Drawings 1940 will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery, 523 West 24th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), through April 19th, 2003. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

For further information or photographs, please contact Adrian Rosenfeld at 212-243-0200.

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