A Times Best Art Book of 2022
Reproductions of the young Lucian Freud’s letters alongside insightful context and commentary reveal the foundations of the artist’s personality and creative practice.
The young Lucian Freud was described by his friend Stephen Spender as ‘totally alive, like something not entirely human, a leprechaun, a changeling child, or, if there is a male opposite, a witch.’ All that magnetism and brilliance is displayed in the letters assembled here. Ranging from schoolboy messages to his parents, through letters and carefully-chosen, often embellished postcards to friends, lovers and confidants, to correspondence with patrons and associates. They are peppered with wit, affection and irreverence.
Alongside rarely seen photographs and Freud’s extraordinary works, each chapter charts Freud’s evolving art alongside intimate accounts of his life. We trace Freud’s early friendships with Stephen Spender, John Craxton, his wild days at art school in East Anglia, and a stint as a merchant seaman. Among the highlights are Freud’s accounts of his first trip to Paris in 1946 and encounters with Picasso, Alexander Calder and Giacometti (who, he thought, looked like Harpo Marx). Equally revealing are letters to and from his first love, Lorna Wishart and second wife, Caroline Blackwood. Among his friends and confidantes were Sonia Orwell and Ann Fleming: remarkable, hitherto unknown letters to both of whom are included. To Ann Fleming he wrote a richly-comic, six-page description of a high society fancy dress ball which took place at Biarritz in 1953. He also went to stay with Ann and her husband Ian in their house in Jamaica, Goldeneye. From there, he sent a stream of letters, plus a telegram to his colleagues at the Slade School of Fine Art (where he was supposed to be teaching): “PLEASE SEND TEN SHEETS GREY GREEN INGRES PAPER”. The volume ends in early 1954 with his inclusion at the age of 31, as one of the artists representing Britain at the Venice Biennale - the high point of his early career.
Co-authored by David Dawson and Martin Gayford, this is the first published collection of Freud’s correspondence, many brought to light for the first time. Reproduced in facsimile alongside reproductions of Freud’s artwork, the letters are linked by a narrative that weaves them into the story of his life and relationships through his formative first three decades. Collectively, they provide a powerful insight into his early life and art.
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
Number of pages: 392
Weight: 1890 g
Dimensions: 315 x 210 mm
'The artist’s riotous lust for life is revealed …The publication of Lucian Freud’s letters is like the moment in Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary when Paul McCartney picks up his bass and creates Get Back out of thin air. It’s letting daylight in on magic … part of the charm of this book is the revelation - to me, at least - of his sense of humour' - Sunday Times
'Lively ... Here Freud’s letters and postcards, in his strangely childlike writing and often augmented with drawings, shed a very personal light on his life and loves … Addressed to lovers, family and friends such as Stephen Spender, Kenneth Clark and Sonia Orwell, Freud’s correspondence fizzes with joshing and drolleries' - The Times, Best Art Books of the Year
'A model of intelligent design … The raw spontaneity and energy of each illustrated page conveys Freud’s moods and preoccupations in a way that no biographer can match. Altogether, this is as vivid a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as we shall ever have, and compelling reading for Freud aficionados and amateur psychologists alike' - The Spectator
'Handsome and enthralling … LOVE LUCIAN is unique, a sort of biographical tapestry woven around a set of missives reproduced in facsimile that are at once skimpy, slapdash, funny and, in many cases, idiosyncratically but beautifully illustrated works of pictorial art' - Guardian
'Playful, gossipy and charming – unpublished letters by a young Lucian Freud show the great artist in a new light' - Daily Telegraph
'Charming … reveals a new side of [Freud’s] character' - The Art Newspaper
'Witty and irreverent' - Harper's Bazaar
'Sheds light on the internal voice and ponderings of one of the greatest painters of the 20th century ... a revelation' - Luxury London
'Offer[s] the artist's correspondence in facsimile, the better to appreciate his doodles and drawings ... [A] sumptuous, illustrated collage of the artist's development' - Vogue Inc
'A lively and entertaining read' - artbookreview.com
'An inviting portrait of the artist as a young man through facsimiles of his handwritten, often lavishly embellished personal correspondence ... Richly illustrated' - NPR
'Love Lucian is beautifully presented, and contextualized with wit and an expert’s discernment. It doesn’t hurt that Freud was one of the century’s great talkers, rogues, and talents' - Air Mail
'Compelling and subtly captivating … That the letters are reproduced in full colour adds much to the book’s charm and gives a great sense of intimacy … Alongside the letters is a sensitively written account of the progress of Lucian’s contemporary life as well as a generous selection of superb reproductions of his work, providing plenty of context … an intimate and affectionate, curated portrait of a great man in his own words' - Henry Malt, The Artist
'A sumptuous £65 edition of Freud’s lively, louche, careless early correspondence, Love Lucian is a life in letters, lovingly annotated – every letter in facsimile so we can see the drawings' - Times Literary Supplement