Lucian Freud exhibition at Tate Liverpool paints an intimate portrait of the late artist


Intimate and revealing portraits of family and friends form the heart of a new examination of the work of the late British artist Lucian Freud at Tate Liverpool.

Lucian Freud: Real Lives, which opens at the Royal Albert Dock gallery today, draws together paintings, etchings and photographs in the first significant exhibition of Freud’s work in the North West for three decades.

Berlin-born Freud, who died in 2011 aged 88, was influenced by surrealism during his formative career as a painter, but by the early 1950s his paintings tended towards realism.

He chose as his subject often the closest people in his life including friends, family, fellow painters, lovers and children, capturing them in an intense and often unsparing fashion in long and closely observed sittings.

The exhibition, curated by Laura Bruni, assistant curator at Tate Liverpool, includes works spanning more than five decades as well as photographs of Freud’s studio, taken by his assistant David Dawson from 2000-2010.

Among the subjects are Freud’s first wife Kitty Garman, his mother Lucie, lover Celia Paul, daughter Bella, a wartime teenage neighbour Charlie Lumley, performance artist and club promoter Leigh Bowery and Freud himself – through a series of self-portraits – along with animals and his garden.

He was meticulous in his work which could take many months and sittings to complete. His painting Two Plants took up to three years to finish, with each leaf individually painted and minutely scrutinised.

The muted, earthy colours of, particularly, his early work are set against similarly muted tones across the second floor gallery space, while a room of etched and painted nudes are displayed on skin pink covered walls.

The show encompasses some of his most celebrated works as well as offering a chance to bring together all of the Freud pieces held within the Tate Collection.

Lucian Freud: Real Lives is at Tate Liverpool from July 24 to January 16, 2022. Entrance is £10 or free for Tate members.


Top: Man's Head (Self Portrait II) 1963. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Slideshow gallery: All paintings in the Tate collection apart from Thistle (1985) - private collection courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, Pluto (1988) private collection courtesy of Desmond Page, and Man's Head as above.