Cover image for A painter's progress : a portrait of Lucian Freud
Title:
A painter's progress : a portrait of Lucian Freud
Author:
Dawson, David, 1960- , author, photographer.
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Physical Description:
272 pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Summary:
"For nearly twenty years David Dawson was Lucian Freud's assistant, companion, and model. Freud moved in rarefied, powerful circles and was tenacious about protecting his privacy. He also carefully avoided distraction. With few exceptions, he wanted only those he knew well, like the late Bruce Bernard, to photograph him. David Dawson, however, was in a unique position, and as Freud became comfortable in the presence of Dawson's camera, photographing became part of the daily ritual of the studio. These photographs reveal in a most intimate way the subjects and the stages of paintings in progress. Few artists, if any, have had their lives and their work recorded over such a length of time. Despite Freud's sense of privacy, his circle was wide. Among those who regularly visited Freud were figures from the art world, including art historian John Richardson, and painters David Hockney, and Frank Auerbach, along with model Kate Moss and friends such as the Duke of Beaufort. The book begins in Freud's old studio in Holland Park and then records the artist in his eighteenth-century house in Kensington, the first floor of which was his final studio. Dawson also photographed Freud on his visits to look at masterpieces in various museums in New York, Amsterdam and Madrid. The book ends with views of the rooms in which Freud's own extraordinary collection of paintings was hung. It is the only record of the house itself before the dispersal of the art on his death, but ultimately, the photographs create an intimate portrait of the man. The final images in this book are of the hanging of Freud's work in his posthumous London exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Haunting and fascinating, this is a revelatory document about one of our most important and influential painters"--
General Note:
"This is a Borzoi Book."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385354080
Format :
Book

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ND497 .F75 D39 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
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Summary

Summary

For nearly twenty years David Dawson was Lucian Freud's assistant, companion, and model. Freud moved in rarefied, powerful circles and was tenacious about protecting his privacy. He also carefully avoided distraction. With few exceptions, he wanted only those he knew well, like the late Bruce Bernard, to photograph him. David Dawson, however, was in a unique position, and as Freud became comfortable in the presence of Dawson's camera, photographing became part of the daily ritual of the studio. These photographs reveal in a most intimate way the subjects and the stages of paintings in progress. Few artists, if any, have had their lives and their work recorded over such a length of time.

Despite Freud's sense of privacy, his circle was wide. Among those who regularly visited Freud were figures from the art world, including art historian John Richardson, and painters David Hockney, and Frank Auerbach, along with model Kate Moss and friends such as the Duke of Beaufort. The book begins in Freud's old studio in Holland Park and then records the artist in his eighteenth-century house in Kensington, the first floor of which was his final studio. Dawson also photographed Freud on his visits to look at masterpieces in various museums in New York, Amsterdam and Madrid. The book ends with views of the rooms in which Freud's own extraordinary collection of paintings was hung. It is the only record of the house itself before the dispersal of the art on his death, but ultimately, the photographs create an intimate portrait of the man. The final images in this book are of the hanging of Freud's work in his posthumous London exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Haunting and fascinating, this is a revelatory document about one of our most important and influential painters.


Author Notes

David Dawson was born in Wales in 1960. After leaving the Royal College of Art, he combined his work as a painter with becoming an assistant to Lucian Freud; he remained with him until Freud's death in 2011. His photographs, alongside those of Bruce Bernard, were published in Freud at Work in 2006. Dawson's paintings have been shown at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, and by Marlborough Fine Art. His photographs of Lucian Freud have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in 2004, at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London, and at the Sigmund Freud Museum in the former Freud apartment in Vienna in 2013. He divides his time between London, Wales, and New York.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dawson, who devoted 20 years to Freud-one of the foremost British painters of the 20th century-as assistant, companion, and model, is himself an artist, and in this mesmerizing photography book, his work provides an intimate portrait of Freud's daily life from the late 1990s through his death in 2011. Photographs of models with their portraits show Freud's idiosyncratic, distorting vision, the antithesis of flattery, which subtly contrasted with the more lyrical treatment of his garden. The studio itself appears as an eccentric, mysterious, private stage set, with piles of dirty white rags against walls thickened with masses of paint smears scraped from Freud's palette, the artist's penciled reminders to himself, and a backdrop for the iron bed on which many of his models spread themselves. Dawson documents Freud encountering the world, socializing and viewing art, as well as the art in his home. The final group of photos shows the hanging of Freud's 2012 posthumous retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery; the juxtaposition of workers and portraits imbues both with intensified irony, emotion, and vibrant life, exposing the full visceral power of Freud's work and Dawson's tenderness, wit, and skill in portraying it. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

How can outsiders really know the mystery of artists' creative processes? The final products stand by themselves, but how did they happen? Critics, commentators, and historians have all attempted to explain the process, but better yet is an intimate look at a famously reclusive artist in midstride. For almost two decades, Dawson, an intimate member of Lucian Freud's inner circle, took hundreds of photographs of the artists's studio, his working habits, his portrait sitters, and Freud himself. These photos, both candid and staged, give us a privileged peek at scenes such as Queen Elizabeth II sitting in a dowdy little studio for Freud's small, ugly, and very unpopular likeness. He is also shown painting a vigorous collection of nudes of both sexes and a fetching likeness of his whippet. In some photos the spark of genius is evident, in others moments of doubt or indecision present themselves. When we glance from sitter to half-drawn portrait on the easel we can imagine ourselves in the air of electricity that surrounds transferring thought and emotion into an object. There is almost no text; the images convey all the information about artist, studio environment, and subject matter. VERDICT A sumptuous examination that should appeal to anyone wondering how an artist can vivify sundry dabs of bright color. [See Prepub Alert, 5/4/14.] David McClelland, Andover, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.