Friday, May 26, 2017


The critique of the book Breakfast with Lucian A Portrait of the Artist - Vintage Books, London, 2015, (see: ), pointed out the quirky indulgence and awkwardness of the graphics that seemed just too clever to be sensible: too 'arty-farty;' ill-considered. After reading the book, one might be tempted to note that the graphics could have been inspired by the life – Lucian Freud's life. What could be more appropriate? His life was chaotic; indulgent; self-important; self-centred. He knew no guilt, and had little respect for others; his lovers. He was the core, the linchpin of his circle of 'friends,' and demanded secrecy between all of the separate involvements; independent knowledge. Everything centred on Lucian. Only he could share the experiences – and he did freely, to suit his own purposes and whims irrespective of others.

He seemed to seek sex anywhere and everywhere. If he wasn't painting, he was womanising; fucking. One is tempted to note that the probing eye that has to delve deep into the crevice of the binding of the book in order to read it, might reflect the Freudian enterprise of what he simply described as 'having a wank' (his term) – plonking the penis into any crevice for his indulgence, completely free of any responsibility, never concerned with outcomes. Toing and froing between women and men in astonishing concentric circles of mothers, friends, accomplices, others' lovers, wives, sons, and daughters; or just, occasionally, anyone who knocked on the door. Gosh, even the author of Breakfast with Lucian got involved with a daughter of a Lucian lover who became Freud’s first wife. Did Geordie Greig feel it so necessary to become a part of the ‘Freud’ world, maybe to gain Lucian's confidence? He tells how he always wanted to interview Lucian Freud, or get him to write a piece for the Tatler magazine, the publication edited by Greig.

Painting and the act of sex were not unconnected. According to John Richardson, for Lucian they were interchangeable. 'He turns sex into art and art into sex, the physical manifestation of his life expressed through paint. His creativeness was very akin to fucking. The sex act and the intellectual act – or creativeness, or whatever you call it – of painting, were in some ways interchangeable.' (p.139 BWL)

The graphic layout of Breakfast with Lucian is awkward, seemingly as graceless as the life full of parading and pomposity that it records. Freud loved being a part of the elite, the upper crust, the aristocracy, (Geordie Greig’s great-grandfather was Lord Mowbray), just as much as he loved being a part of the local criminal world. The chaos of his self-centred life seems to have been reflected in the graphics of the book that demand twisting, manipulating, probing, spreading, for the read: many awkward orientations that delve deep into crevices. Male or female, Lucian seemed interested in getting his dick into it. In what appears to be the same self-conscious way, the reader has to get the eye into the book. In this Freudian manner, the designer seems to have had little consideration for the experience of the reader; or is it pure cynicism - maybe happenstance?

It is a long stretch to justify poor design in this way, but it is an interesting proposition to ponder. The 'Freud' life gained its prestige and interest from his legendary grandfather, Sigmund Freud, who delved into sexual lives psychoanalytically, creating the word 'Freudian.' The grandson seemed to have made his life an example, a re-enactment of the theory – fuck anything; paint it; fuck it; leave it; repeat again and again, with no necessary linear order or sequence, or conscience. Rather, there was a layering, of bodies and people – literally: and lives, willy-nilly, (yes, again literally). Freud created a complete unconcerned muddle of his life – a little like the graphics. Still the book is worth a read, if only to raise questions about art and its elite world:

Is it essential to be a recusant ‘fucker’ to be an artist? Consider Francis Bacon, a good friend of Lucian Freud, some might say an inspiration. Is it essential for the artist to be part of the aristocracy, or loved or intrigued by it; to fuck around in the glory of super self-indulgence and a surplus of money as a 'Bohemian' with quaint 'idiosyncrasies' (p.180 BWF)?

A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure.  Lucian Freud (BWL p.129) 

Such is life; what is art?
Consider the latest $110.5 million for the Basquiat - see:

For the Love of God Damien Hirst 2007
(asking price 50 million pounds)

Hallucinatory Head  Damien Hirst
£36,800.00 inc VAT

Art is money? Does money know art? Does money make art? How does this art reflect life? Does it? Can it? Should it?

Transcendent Head  Damien Hirst
£36,800.00 inc VAT  

Damien Hirst and his sculpture For the Love of God

Coatlicue, the Aztec goddess of the land and fertility

What is art, that thou are ‘moneyful’ of it? (apologies to Psalmist)

Acquavella was on a different scale. He travelled by private jet. He never queried price. He had a palace of a gallery in Manhattan. He was rich and patrician and already dealt in major pictures by Picasso and Matisse. Kirkman had always been unable to find anyone who wanted to give Lucian a commercial show in New York. That changed in 1992 when Acquavella put his muscle and money behind Lucian to propel him into the big time. (p.208 BWL)

'Breakfast with Lucian is a superb, flawlessly crafted portrait of about as messy a life as was ever lived.'  TOM WOLFE #
'There were no rules really.' (p.199 BWL)

Kate Moss and Lucian Freud in bed

Freud in bed

This launched him into the world of those with cultural power and money. It would remain thus. (p.228 BWL)

Jade encrusted skull from Oaxaca, Mexico

Here one thinks of Rolf Harris: see - Harris is currently out on bail, and is again in court on sex charges. This entertainer / artist, (he, too, has painted the queen), has been haunted by reports of his sex life and incarcerated for it. Lucian’s antics seem to be somewhat plauded, or tolerated, with the “He is an artist” argument: the greater the artist, the greater the deviation accepted. One has to ask: did Harris get involved in a different class of life that has a less ‘alternative’ view of things, a less introvert acceptance of difference; one with opinions less 'open' than 'aristocratic' attitudes that seem to know how to keep things quiet and handle scandals? Or is it that he is not a 'great' artist?


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