Accompanying the exhibition Lucian Freud: Drawings is an archive of Freud’s numerous graphic illustrations, displayed alongside the research books that interested the artist, rare interviews, past exhibition posters, catalogues and documentary film materials. This archive acts as a study and research resource in support of the exhibition at Blain|Southern’s Hill Street galleries, where the drawings exhibition itself is hung.
Among the books that Freud illustrated in full are The Glass Tower (1944) and The Equilibriad (1948). The Glass Tower, a book of poems from 1936-43 by Nicholas Moore, features the clawed lettering designed by Freud on the dust jacket and title page, alongside his stylised drawing of a palm tree for the cover, and another 14 drawings of shells, fish, monkeys, zebras and birds loosely relating to the poetry inside. The Equilibriad, a highly strung novella by William Sansom, features the drawings, Startled Man:Self Portrait (194 8) and Ada (1948), and the precise and clean finish of these drawings more or less marked the end of Freud’s engagement with illustration.
Numerous book covers and frontispieces were also adorned with Freud’s drawings, among them Hideous Kinky, reproducing a pencil portrait of its author, Esther Freud, as a young girl, and Sexual Intercourse by the Rose Boyt, where a man wearing a splayed overcoat rapturously embraces his lover.
Freud used a number of publications as reference books, continually turning to these throughout his life. The most significant was Geschichte Aegyptens by J. H. Breasted, containing images of Egyptian sculptures and hieroglyphics that fascinated Freud, and some of which he painted in his work Egyptian Book (1994). Monographs on El Greco and Albrecht Dürer were also constants, as was Galgenlieder, one of the artist’s favourite children’s books.
The audio recording of a conversation between curator William Feaver and Lucian Freud, Third Ear (1991), will be played at intervals throughout the day, and gives insight into Freud’s childhood, artistic influences, subject matters and his relationships with his models. Equally, the film Lucian Freud: Portraits by Jake Auerbach (2004), also screened daily, gives a view of the artist as seen through the eyes of his sitters.
Past exhibition materials include the Wanted poster that Freud created in 2001, in advance of a major retrospective at Tate, London, which was aimed at provoking information about his stolen portrait of Francis Bacon (1951).
Drawing was at the core of Lucian Freud’s art and this is evident in both the artist’s paintings and works on paper. It is within this context that Blain|Southern and William Feaver present Lucian Freud: Drawings, which brings together more than 100 works to suggest the interplay between the drawings, etchings, watercolours, gouaches and oils of the past 70 years.
Lucian Freud: Drawings has been co-organised with Acquavella Galleries, New York, where it will be exhibited from 30 April – 9 June, 2012.
6 Hill Street [Drawings]
21 Dering Street [Archive]