Under the Black Flag

Art in the Loo

Christie’s, the auction house, took a full-page ad in the New York Times to publicize the record sale of a painting by a living artist, Lucian Freud, to the tune of $33.6 million.  Thirty-three million greenbacks for a portrait of a horribly fat woman lying naked on a misshapen sofa.  The mind reels.  It is a dreadful painting, but it does tell us something about the corrupting power of money and one man’s contempt for the female sex.

Lucian Freud is not a sympathetic character.  I have met him twice, and he is thoroughly unpleasant, an 86-year-old man who specializes in picking up young, impressionable women and making lotsa moolah with his relentlessly drab, ugly, and static paintings.  The horrid images of the human body that he specializes in reflect his subjects: old, fat, ugly men and women.  The modern hucksters who run the art world have declared Freud a genius, but in my not so humble opinion, he is nothing of the kind.  He is a very minor painter who has never evolved from all the flaws of drawing and construction, using tricks, quirks, and mannerisms to hide his lack of talent.

Freud was born in Berlin in 1922, the grandson of that other fraud, Sigmund, and came to England in 1933.  His brother Clement, an ex-member of Parliament, and he have not spoken for years, which in a way makes me like Clement, a man I know better than Lucian although he, too,...

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