Painted Life explores the life and work of Lucian Freud. Including interviews with those closest to him and unique footage of him painting his last work shortly before his death.
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This programme contains some strong language.
If you put your knee forward. Yeah, absolutely.
At 88, Lucian Freud still wanted to paint every day
in the quiet of his studio.
These shots were filmed by his trusted assistant, David Dawson,
as he posed for Freud's final painting...
..and is the first time this secretive man
has been filmed working.
It is also what turned out to be the very last day he ever painted.
Only a few days later,
on 20th July last year,
the artist Lucian Freud died.
He was acclaimed only in the last quarter of his life.
He was famous for mercilessly explicit paintings.
Notorious for sex with young women in old age,
and for a surprising number of children.
Some like to say as many as 40
but, in reality, more like 14.
Lot 37, Lucian Freud, Benefit Supervisor Sleeping.
And celebrated for breaking world records at auction.
At 30 million.
These headlines are endlessly recycled
because the artist gave little away.
Despite his late, uninvited exposure,
for most of his life, Lucian Freud was almost invisible.
And always elusive.
-OK, now we're going to just drop it down.
-Buffer it on your feet...
Good boy. Are you all right, mate?
MUSIC PLAYS IN BACKGROUND
# Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'
# On this our wedding day
# Do not forsake me oh my darling... #
It's a few weeks after Lucian's death.
His assistant, David Dawson, is still caught up
in the strands of his life.
Sharpened by a sense of loss,
memories of the artist and his paintings are surfacing
amongst his lovers, family and friends.
They talk with the same uncompromising honesty with which Freud painted them...
..revealing the romantic passion which fused his life with his art.
LUCIAN FREUD: 'My preferred subject matter are humans.
'I'm really interested in them as animals,
'and part of liking to work from them naked is partly for that reason.'
When you're with him one-on-one,
it was the most intimate, intense level of friendship.
Completely in the moment
about what was happening around you,
and that's all that mattered.
He was electric.
And everything about him was electric,
and so one was stimulated immediately.
Just the way he walked into a room and the way he breathed,
he would breathe like an animal that's excited.
And he was very animal and feral
and he did exactly what he wanted.
I think he was very shy, actually.
Obviously loved women, so he's not so shy with them.
He was always chasing girls. I mean, he'd spent a lot of time doing that.
He was a bit of a show-off, I would say.
But a show-off with all the desires
of not being noticed.
But equally wanting to be noticed, so it's a contradiction.
He used to get into fights all the time,
and he very easily took against things
in a way that I thought was delightful, I really admired.
You know, the way he would just suddenly decide
that something really pissed him off was superb
because there was nothing half-hearted about his responses to things.
On one occasion,
he was in this punch-up with this man in Marylebone High Street,
and the man was much bigger than him
and he'd pinned Lucian to the pavement
and was absolutely going berserk and punching Lucian.
Lucian, at this point, having given as good as he'd got up till then,
just kind of lay back as though he was on a beach
and became completely passive, as though it was happening to somebody else.
And I think Lucian had this kind of animal instinct
to know how to play life, really.
RACING ANNOUNCER: 'The back of the field at this stage, is six lengths off the pace.
'Valedictor has taken over now but only has a narrow advantage as they reach the halfway point...'
Do you remember once
he lost, I think, nearly a million pounds in one afternoon
and another afternoon he won a million. We said, "Brilliant."
He said, "Well, actually, I owe four million, so it's not all that good!"
-The motive, I think, was to lose everything...
..and that somehow triggered him off to be able to then paint cos there's no other distractions.
And then as the price of his paintings increased,
there was just too much money involved.
He couldn't get rid of it all and then that's when he lost interest.
Lucian Freud sacrificed everything for his painting,
happy to be feared, if that kept the world at bay.
He kept his private life as mysterious as possible.
What he wants us to know is all there in the painting.
Evidence of what he saw...
delivered with lacerating honesty.
The paintings often disturb and yet enchant us too with their intensity.
And that disturbing intensity was there from the start, in his family
and with his mother.
He always said that he really couldn't stand his mother -
she used to hoard his love letters that she found.
She used to write to girlfriends asking for love letters so she could put them in her drawer.
She was intrusive, she was instinctive, he said,
and by that he meant her instincts were to know what he was up to
and he didn't want her to know what he was up to.
Lucian was born in Berlin in 1922,
and from the outset, his mother encouraged his talent.
She hoarded all his childhood drawings.
He was her favourite and she named him after herself, Lucie.
When Lucian was born, his father Ernst set off almost immediately
to the mountains and left Lucie and Lucian alone.
As a mother, I know how important those first few months are -
you're just completely wrapped up in your baby.
And there's no doubt that she was very connected to him.
When he was 18, her made a drawing of her.
He wouldn't make another image of her for 30 years.
What did he make of his father?
Ernst Freud was a successful architect.
In the late '20s, Berlin was at the forefront of modern design.
Today, his cigarette factory is still standing.
And in Potsdam, his fashionable weekend retreat for a banker client,
modernism in brick, has been restored.
Ernst was a society architect.
Lucian found him boring.
I think my first memory is of us all
sitting on the floor in our nursery with a diabolo,
one of these things, a piece of string with a sort of...
waisted object in the middle which you'd try to roll along it
and bounce up in the air.
We all vied with each other to do it best.
The family apartment was full of his father's trendy furniture.
But on the wall is a print of a painting by Titian,
an artist who was become one of Lucian's absolute favourites.
We were dragged to museums nonstop.
-Do you think Lucian was taken off to museums?
-Oh, I'm certain.
I mean, that went with the period in which we lived
and the people who were our family -
art and music played a HUGE role.
In later life, Lucian denied being taken to the great Berlin galleries.
He rarely talked about his influences.
He refused any sort of label.
But he did talk about his affinity with animals,
and in particular, horses.
He did say that as a child,
he used to go to the grand house called Gaglow.
There were horses there, and I think he once said that there was a fire
and that he remembered the distress of the horses
and how important it was to let the horses out.
For the young Lucian, horses were a comfort,
a way of escaping the world.
LUCIAN FREUD: 'I was always alone and I always wanted to be.
'My mother said my first word was "alleine", which means "alone",
'leave me alone. I always liked being on my own.'
The reassurance he found with animals is missing with humans.
Lucian's early attempts to cope with his conventional wealthy parents
in Berlin would not last long.
Lucian was a German Jew.
After "the very small man" came to power early in 1933,
Jewish businessmen became a target.
Lucian's uncle, Rudolf Mosse,
was one of the very first to be singled out.
Lucian knew him.
They would've gone to his house near Berlin.
Rudy was arrested at five in the morning
in his home.
He was marched off minus braces, minus belt, minus shoelaces.
The indication was very clear -
you're not going to enjoy where you're going.
What then happened, nobody really knows...
..other than he died.
Ernst and Lucie Freud reacted to the murder immediately.
On 12th August 1933, immigration papers show Ernst addressed in London
where he planned the family escape.
They were leaving security...
..and a very easy life
for a totally unknown factor.
That autumn in England, Lucie arrived and sent Lucian to board
at Dartington Hall, a progressive school in Devon.
Lucian could not speak English.
But Dartington Hall had stables - that is where he said he decided to sleep...
..on his own.
He was a natural horseman.
When he was at school,
they realised he wasn't a very normal pupil
and he was put in charge of the animals, which he loved
because he had a extraordinary affinity with dogs, or even birds.
You were allowed to do what you wanted at Dartington, and what he chose to do
was spend time with the horses.
He once said that the man who looked after the horses, the groom,
was the first person that he really loved.
'Since you didn't have to go into school, I took it literally
'and I got up at five or six and helped the farmer milk the goats
'and do various other things so I could have the horses I liked.
'So I used to ride nearly all day and I got further and further behind.'
His handwriting looks like an idiotic child
has sort of written it - it's so awkward.
I remember receiving this letter
inviting me to meet up and have lunch with him
and it said Lucian Freud at the bottom and it just looked
so completely unlikely to be the hand of an adult person.
It just looks so childish.
In the forlorn hope that he might get a proper education,
Lucian's parents moved him to Bryanston School.
He carried on before - wilful and independent.
'I thought if I didn't go into the initial lessons
'I would never be missed because I hadn't been initially seen,
'so I took that too far and spent all my time at the sculpture school
'and carved a horse out of sandstone. I was very pleased with it.'
Lucian's way of being attuned to animals,
horses and dogs particularly, was basic,
central, fundamental, and every time he painted a horse or a dog,
this was as much a portrait as it was of the most intimate human being
with whom he was connected.
Lucian still had problems fitting in at school.
One day, he diverted the local hunt through Bryanston's main hall.
When, on a dare, he dropped his trousers in the local town,
he was expelled.
What would his parents do with him next?
At the age of 15,
Lucian's determination to do exactly what he wanted paid off.
He was accepted at art school on the strength of this sculpture.
At the same time, in the summer of 1938,
Lucian was filmed in London with his grandfather, Sigmund Freud.
The founder of modern psychoanalysis had just escaped Vienna.
Lucian's four great aunts
all died in concentration camps.
He was very proud of his grandfather.
But not of his grandfather as a psychiatrist - he had absolutely no time
for Freud's theories of psychology.
He admired his grandfather above all for being a biologist,
and when Freud did indeed start as a biologist,
and I believe made a lot of major discoveries,
Lucian always maintained
that he was the one who discovered how to tell the sex of eels -
nobody before Freud had realised which was a male
and which was a female eel. And Lucian's love of animals
I think came very much from his grandfather being a biologist
before he became a psychiatrist.
As a biologist, Sigmund used a microscope to make this ink drawing
showing the nerves of fishes.
Lucian looked very precisely at what interested him.
Sigmund analysed his patients for years
in the privacy of his consulting rooms.
Lucian scrutinised his human subjects for years
in the secrecy of his studio.
Sigmund filled his space with ancient art,
betrayals of the psyche and sexuality.
He also had two mummy portraits,
some of the earliest examples of a human likeness that echoed Lucian's need
to capture individuality and mortality.
As a German, a Jew and as Sigmund's grandson,
the young art student had a complex but rich inheritance.
I first met Lucian very casually. He liked to make his presence felt.
He was 17, I was 16.
He was very distinctive-looking,
an intense look, these very sharp features
and you just felt that he was sort of turned right on whenever you spoke to him.
He was not like the rest of us - relaxed and sloppy and silly -
Lucian was kind of all wired up and ready to go.
One felt his power, intellectual power,
and his sort of physical presence.
I can't exaggerate it too much,
this feeling that he was already somebody.
Lucian hated it when critics claimed to see influences in his work.
But prints by Durer hung on the wall
near the Titian in the family home in Berlin.
Actually, Lucian had an extraordinary admiration
for the minuteness, the amazing invention of Durer,
but primarily for this amazing, intense gaze.
Perhaps it's characteristically North European,
you sit and look at something in minute detail,
whether it's a hare, or your mother, or a lump of grass,
and you find each thing, not just differently fascinating, but equally fascinating.
If you locked him away...
in even a dingy motel room in America,
at the end of a week, he'd still come out with interesting paintings.
He'd find the tears on the carpet or the worn something or other
and he'd paint it, because he'd enjoyed looking at it somehow,
the difference between this and this.
Every element in Freud's work is intensely examined.
His eyes had this rather odd way of focusing on you
where they would stare suddenly -
you'd be in the middle of a conversation and suddenly
like that. Quite disconcerting.
I always sensed a sort of absence there,
that his eyes were looking at you,
but actually behind those eyes, he'd gone into some different mode.
He must have been late teens or early 20s,
and he was drawing this wonderful picture.
You have this incredibly intricate basketwork,
which is just beautiful.
I watched him do that and I was really astonished.
Lucian dropped out of his conventional art school in London.
He never liked being told what to do.
The art school he eventually went to was the only one that could have suited him
because it was very lazy, very louche,
almost a country house party in a boarding school manor.
It was in Suffolk and it was run by Cedric Morris and Lett-Haines
and they clearly saw in Lucian
the absolute star pupil
who seemed to be producing remarkable things from the world go.
They painted each other and it's very interesting how Cedric Morris
painted Lucian as a kind of squirmy, uneasy adolescent.
Lucian painted Cedric Morris as a mischievous, devilish,
very camp, with a funny little clay pipe, who was very much a grown-up,
but he reduced him to almost a kind of glove puppet status.
Under Cedric's protection, Lucian felt comfortable enough
to start to express his attitude towards people.
Six years after leaving Berlin,
his images derived from memory and imagination,
more than direct observation.
The tender response to the horse is missing.
Faces are sly or mask-like,
lived in or damaged.
Specimens of his times.
Cedric Morris gave his student the freedom he needed.
His approach to painting was a revelation.
-'I got a feeling of the excitement of painting, watching him work,
'because he worked in a very odd way, from the top to the bottom,
'as if he was unrolling something which was actually there.
'Even when he was painting a portrait, he'd paint a background
'and go further down and do the whole thing in one go
'and never really touched the thing afterwards as far as I know.'
This very direct approach to capturing his subject
influenced Freud for the rest of his life.
He begins with a charcoal drawing,
not that much...
but enough to fix some essential things, the edge,
and then he seems to begin with the nose.
I think he spent a long time here building this
and then moved round.
The eyes are not put in for quite a while
and it would build up very slowly.
He mixed every tone
and it did occur to me at first, I thought,
"Well, you could've been a bit quicker
"if you'd pre-mixed quite a few of them,
"because they're quite similar,
"and then it wouldn't take you as long to mix it."
But that was when I realised I'm just thinking of myself there
because his method, he wants you there as long as possible
so why not mix every colour slowly, meaning he has more time that way?
Lucian settled at Cedric Morris' school,
but then in July 1939, it burned down.
Lucian claimed he'd been experimenting with smoking.
Two months later, war broke out.
Lucian could not stay at art school
and he couldn't face going home to be with his mother, so he went to sea.
He somehow found himself in the Merchant Navy on an Atlantic convoy
and ended up, I think it was Halifax, Canada, or Nova Scotia,
but he said that the worst thing on the trip out
was that he was thin, young, presumably rather nice-looking
and that some of the older sailors on the boat took a fancy to him
and that's when he said he learned how to defend himself.
The whole convoy must have come under attack.
One of the other ships was hit, and Lucian,
rather characteristically said his first reaction to this air attack
was, "Hooray, fireworks!" with these explosions and bright lights.
And then bits of body
and wreckage from this ship starting raining down on the ship which
he was on and he realised what a terrible thing had happened.
This prickly 19-year-old was shocked to the core.
Whilst at sea, he developed tonsillitis and was discharged.
He later painted himself ill in bed.
From now on, he would calculate his own risks,
retreat even further into his own private world,
and control who gained entry.
And he wanted to take control of the world through his pictures too.
Freud began taking accurate draughtsmanship to the extreme limit.
He started to look at his subjects with an ever greater intensity.
He was finding a way to preserve what was precious to him.
Aspects of his private life.
His lover's flesh, his lover's hair.
Breasts, for breastfeeding his baby.
In 1942, aged only 20, he moved into violent, low-rent Paddington,
and settled into a lifelong pattern
of living and painting in seedy flats,
exploring his immediate surroundings.
Freud didn't like leaving his studio,
but he would travel further for his art.
After the war, he rushed to Paris.
He wanted to meet the big talents of Europe.
Pablo Picasso showed him recent work at his studio.
Picasso was a virtuoso, and a showman,
projecting his identity onto the canvas.
Freud didn't see himself as the next Picasso.
He sought out another great artist working in Paris,
someone depicting the world as he saw it on canvas and clay,
They had long discussions.
Giacometti made two drawings of Freud, now lost.
Lucian was captivated by the cluttered studio
and Alberto's procedure.
A constant scrutiny, destroying and remaking works
with no plan or guarantee of success, no formula.
Trusting that with hard work,
he might, one day, convey something of what he saw.
Lucian followed this high-risk approach for the rest of his life.
Freud kept faith with capturing the world in paint
at a time when photography was in fashion as an art form.
He knew that hundreds of hours of scrutiny
pay off differently in a painting,
layering into the work multiple visual insights,
making his image almost inexhaustible.
Proper painting has got to come from what we see around us,
what we know, what we are sure of, what we're interested in.
Now, the most imaginative thing you possibly can do
is look at something ordinary and turn it into something memorable,
which is what Lucian did throughout.
He made people memorable,
more memorable than they were in life, perhaps.
He had this idea that a painting is something set apart.
Once you've done it, it's on its own.
And it either is boring or it's interesting.
And if it's interesting, it's simply because the artist has put all his energies,
all his attention, all his devotion into it,
and then it's like a grown-up child, off it goes into its own life.
And that's the most imaginative, positive,
timeless and indeed modern thing you can do in art.
Look at the world around you and make something of it.
But what inspired Lucian's devotion throughout his life?
In most cases, it's the person he loved at the time.
In 1948, that person was Kitty Garman,
the daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein.
He married her,
and she became the subject of his first major series of portraits.
The series ended with his growing recognition,
and in 1952, the first of his works to be bought by the Tate Gallery.
Lucian's idea of a relationship was to be in love,
but to remain in charge.
Kitty had to do what she was told.
She had a difficult life with him.
She used to describe to me this kitchen scene,
that she'd cook up something that she thought he liked,
and then he sat at the table, waiting,
and then she'd put it down in front of him,
and then she had to go and sit with her face to the wall in the corner,
while he ate it up.
Lucian felt free to do anything he liked.
When he was married, he was looking for something with me.
Probably that's why they didn't last long, you know.
Once you've had a good feed of something, you get tired of it.
And the way he used to be able to get away from Kitty was to say,
"I'm working on a night picture with Charlie."
You know? Away we go, do an hour, you know, painting.
And then that gave us leeway to go down the West.
And he'd go back the next morning,
"Yes, marvellous night, lot of work done!"
And that was it, you know.
The painting reflected how the relationship changed,
and tensions grew.
If you look at these, to me,
the earlier paintings show my mother as a girl.
And then you turn to this. This is a painting of a woman.
There's a much greater sense of self,
projecting at you,
as a viewer. Um...
There's a sense of sadness,
even some anger, I think.
It's to do with real life. It's the maturation of her face.
There is a much more complicated person being portrayed here.
There are thoughts and emotions and a life going on.
And the...nature of her, her gestural self,
is richer and more complex,
with her hand on her breast, and the other resting on the mattress.
And also, a huge part of the painting is taken up with
this yellow towelling dressing gown.
And it somehow adds a difficult emotional aspect to the painting.
Its sort of complex folds,
and the way it goes so deeply in at the waist.
Less than a year after this painting,
Kitty and Lucian separated.
It was a terrible, terrible thing to experience.
I'm sure, like most children do when their parents separate,
that they think that they are some way to blame,
and that I felt somehow at fault.
When I was quite small, when we used to go to the park,
we used to spend a lot of time doing handstands.
I know that he was brilliant at headstands and handstands.
And spent a large amount of his childhood standing on his head.
And he was always throwing me around, not in a way that hurt.
I used to wonder, as I was sailing through the air,
whether he wanted me to be an acrobat.
Lucian had fallen for high society beauty
and intellectual Lady Caroline Blackwood.
His infatuation fuelled the next series of paintings.
Caroline's money bought him an upper-class lifestyle.
Coombe Priory in Dorset.
Horses and dogs, weekend parties.
And frequent visits to Paris.
In 1954, he went with her to see Picasso again.
Unlike Kitty, Caroline couldn't be controlled.
She was her own person, getting what she wanted.
The romantic, erotic dream that turned into a nightmare.
Lucian's painting reflected the tensions in the relationship.
Caroline is in the light.
Lucian in the shadow.
A question seems to hang in the air. What is this situation?
Paris was meant to be fun, but the love nest has become a battleground.
When Caroline left him, Lucian was devastated.
He returned to his old life in London,
where friends, including the leading painter of his time,
Francis Bacon, noticed a change.
When the divorce came through,
people were worried that he was going to commit suicide, with Caroline.
Or Francis Bacon was, anyway.
Because we were in the street, and he said,
"I'm just going upstairs," in Dean Street.
"See you in a minute."
Bacon said to me, "For Christ's sake, go and keep an eye on him
"cos I think he's going to jump off the roof."
When Caroline left him, that was an extraordinary shock.
It was unprecedented for him, he'd not been left,
it was as though his mother had left him.
It was abandonment, and he abandoned himself.
He got into fights, he drank. He went wilder.
And the painting was in a transitional stage.
Painting always is in a transitional stage if it's any good,
but it was unusually transitional.
And so, one way and another, his life had to be re-orientated.
And he found it difficult, difficult for two or three years.
In a way, the misery which he cast off
actually concentrated his mind, I think.
The experience concentrated Lucian's mind
on a major problem in his painting.
What did Lucian need to liberate his painting?
In 1945, Lucian had befriended Francis Bacon,
who was on the cusp of international fame.
By the mid-'50s, he was a superstar.
Bacon had made it to this position entirely on his own terms.
At that time, Lucian saw him as unique, the real thing.
Lucian was stunned by the truth of Bacon's raw, fleshy brushwork,
and his relentless effort to express the intensity of his feelings.
I think one of the things that really excited Freud is that
Bacon really used to talk about how much
he used to pack into every brushstroke.
This is something that really, really excited Freud,
the fact that he could free up paint.
As we can see here, around the face,
not only in the way that the face is worked,
but the fact that when he's finished the face,
he's throwing the brush and creating this in a way,
as Lucian used to always talk about, what Bacon calls "the accident".
Bacon's dexterity produced what looked like spontaneous emotion.
This immediacy demanded a response from Freud,
but not to imitate Bacon's look.
Freud moved away from the style that had made him successful,
smooth surface achieved with a soft sable brush, which conveyed
a sense of emotional remoteness, to a patchwork of marks
made with a bigger, stiffer hogshair brush.
Now, each stroke of paint
would better satisfy
Freud's intense personal engagement with the subject.
To capture close up their living presence.
Most portrait papers are content to achieve a likeness,
a good likeness of a person.
Constantly in Lucian, you see him going way beyond that.
He achieves something like a likeness,
and then he just keeps putting more on, and creating more effects.
And each one of those marks is not predetermined,
but it's another sign of his response to the person in front of him.
I think through registering all those extra responses over such a long period,
it does go beyond likeness
and into this sense you have of his own engagement with that person.
It was so crucial for paint to become flesh
that when he discovered a heavy lead-based paint, Cremnitz white,
it so suited the way he saw things that he couldn't create without it.
Cremnitz white helped give Freud his look of pasty, lived-in bodies,
lying in stained and damaged rooms.
Cremnitz white's a lovely paint,
and it's got a lovely skinny quality about it.
And Lucian, once he'd discovered it, was totally taken over.
And I do remember at some stage,
the EU was going to issue a ban on paint
with so much lead in it or something.
And Lucian absolutely freaked out.
He got in a total state of panic, and he lobbied Arnold Goodman,
who was in the House of Lords at the time, to ask questions.
And he bought up as far as he could
the country's whole supply of Cremnitz white.
Freud lived to paint. It calmed him down.
But he worked with such intensity, seven days a week,
that he needed to find ways of letting off steam.
Help was close at hand.
He greatly admired Bacon, the way... his rather lordly way of life.
Striding along in the gutter,
rather despising other people, in the case of Bacon,
knowing he could buy people with champagne,
knowing that if he dispensed cash, people would come grovelling for it.
Knowing that his witty asides
were probably better witty asides that most people's.
Lucian loved this, and he admired him.
It was a kind of relationship of how to live an artist's life.
Well, we'd go to a club, and he'd pull, trying to pull,
you know, which he invariably did.
We'd go to The Mandrake, and The Colony.
Bacon would be up there, and all the rest, Deakin. Everyone else.
It was a good club, you know. Full of homosexuals.
All trying to outdo each other, with gestures and things. Um...
..Lu and Bacon having a discussion of art, over the din.
And this crippled pianist used to sit there,
and he used to play there all night. Really good, he was.
He had a sort of very wide circle of acquaintances.
Lu Freud of Paddington, they all talked about him, all those people.
But he never discussed it much, that.
tremendously fond of,
er, sort of cockney life.
And he hung out in East End pubs.
He had a number of friends who were on the fringes of the law.
At one moment, he even knew the Kray brothers.
I would have run a mile, but Lucian was amused.
And then there was another character in his life,
who he did a portrait of.
He really was a rather bad character
in that he betrayed his fellow criminals,
and I remember Lucian telling me
that he was tied to a chair...
..and then they cut his mouth open, because somebody who grasses,
that's the classic thing they do.
The chair was hung out of the window upside down,
on the road that came in from the east end of London, and up which,
on this particular early morning,
the Aldermaston march was coming.
And this man came to with his mouth cut open
and the Aldermaston peace march walking underneath him.
He rang me, sort of, I think it was about four in the morning
and said, "Dave, can I come round, I've got something to ask you."
I said, "Yes, you better hurry up
"because I'm just about to go to the airport to catch a plane somewhere."
He came round, I said, "What do you want?"
He said, "£1,500,"
because, you know, we were all... It was quite a sum to raise.
So I said, "Why do I have to give you £1,500?"
He said, "Because if I haven't produced it by 12 o'clock,
"they're going to cut my tongue out."
Freud liked living on the edge. Which was fortunate.
His painting was completely out of step with his time.
We had the kitchen sink school in the late '50s, we had pop art.
Then we had op art, then we had kinetic art.
And all the sort of younger critics
and people who were interested in trendy, modern art
thought Lucian was a dinosaur.
They just weren't interested.
They couldn't see there was any point in that sort of painting.
The pictures he did in the early '60s were over life-size,
and pretty...superficially, pretty ugly.
They didn't sell.
And they hung around for a long time without proud owners.
People felt he had just not lived up to his initial promise.
Lucian didn't care.
He wouldn't change, he COULDN'T change.
His impulse was to commit ever more to his painting,
exploring feelings even more deeply.
I think he was very, very focused on what he was doing.
And was quite tough, and ignored whatever the fashion was.
But all good artists do that, I think, really.
His drive remained to portray people he was closest to.
With Kitty and Caroline, a portrait meant the head and face.
By the mid-1960s, he started to paint the whole body.
To capture the complete intimate relationship.
A naked person just as he saw them.
Not the idealised porcelain nudes of tradition, but a naked portrait.
It was a new category of painting.
I think he wanted more than just the head,
he wanted to see the whole animal, he would say.
And he loved watching, he liked watching people move and talk,
and emotions... He was fascinated by animal behaviour.
To paint the human animal
inevitably required a great deal of trust and cooperation.
Sometimes I resented it terribly,
sometimes I was so pleased to get away from the domestic life
and be able to go there and relax
and work at something that made total sense to me.
And then sometimes it was so painful, obviously,
because things were going on in our life,
that I'd want to jack it in and just leave the room.
And it was all quite difficult,
we gave up on several paintings because it just became so difficult.
We were crashing around at that time,
there was a lot of books flying around the room.
It was during one of our many break-ups.
By ratcheting up the explicit detail,
specifically the genitals, Freud rebelled against the coy nude
and showed us the presence of a real body.
He gave a frank account of many of his sexual relationships.
For Lucian, I think that painting was akin to fucking.
I think his creativeness, I should have said, was very akin to fucking.
The sex act and the intellectual act, whatever you call it,
of painting, were in some ways interchangeable.
I think that he very...
He had no difficulty transforming sexual notions into paint,
and paint into sexual notions.
I think the two aspects of his senses came together in the act of painting.
He didn't start painting me for two years
after I'd started going out with him.
I was a very, very self-conscious, shy young woman.
And it did feel very exposing to lie there.
And he stood very close to me
and kind of scrutinised me
in a way that made me feel very undesirable.
It felt quite clinical. Almost as though I was on a surgical bed.
The many months of collaboration often undermined the relationship.
In this painting of Celia, roles are exchanged.
The naked man is perhaps a surrogate Lucian.
I'm the painter, and I'm standing in a position of power, really.
And this is interesting to me, that it's the last painting he did of me.
I'd become myself more ambitious as a painter,
and I was preparing for my first solo exhibition in London.
And I'd also, a few years before, had given birth to our son Frank.
And I think Lucian's feelings about me
in this painting are quite ambivalent.
I'm holding this very definitely angled brush,
and I'm standing on a tube of paint which is oozing.
The brush and the oozing paint tube, I feel, are kind of sexual symbols,
and I think suddenly me becoming both a mother
and a seriously ambitious painter
put me in a different position.
And I was no longer the kind of voluptuous figure lying on the bed.
I remember at one point, you know, we had some quarrel
and I said, "I'm leaving."
He pleaded with me not to, because he said, "We're just in the middle."
And it made me sort of conscious that there was going to be
a beginning, middle and end,
and that it wasn't going to be a relationship for life.
I remember hearing these parents of friends of mine
talking about a friend of mine, a girl, saying,
"Do you know he's having an affair with Lucian Freud?"
They were saying, "Disgusting, filthy Jew." This is what they said.
I remember them saying this. And I remember thinking,
"I wonder if I could meet him?" I remember thinking that.
He was demanding so much commitment and so much time,
that you really couldn't not love someone to be in that situation.
You had to love them a bit, because they're trying to...
..create out of nothing this magic, magic creation, from nothing.
From a blank canvas.
And there's an enormous amount of crisis going into that.
He would jump up and down and scream,
it was really hard for him to bring it about.
He was working in this immense intensity.
This was year in, year out. This was Christmas Day, New Year's Eve.
There was never a day off, it was like this every day.
He had this extraordinary energy and he was working, standing up,
for seven, eight hours, through the night.
And then he would be up at 7am,
painting someone else, which to me seemed incredible.
To Freud, making a painting was always an attempt to make his best work yet.
He would try never to repeat himself.
The way that he dealt with me in the beginning,
was really, it's like sort of saying, "You're an animal.
"You've got to understand, that's how you're going to be treated."
He wanted it to be a sexual relationship?
Yes, I think he was really used to it. That's the deal, almost.
Um... But I just didn't, I wouldn't, it's just not...
You know, I just wasn't into it.
Four paintings of Sabina were started,
but all of them failed and were destroyed by Freud himself.
It was, punch, you know,
a kick through so it's almost like you're kicking through a person.
I felt that he was very angry with me.
Lucian needed intimacy to capture the presence of his sitters.
When trust broke down the strain was unbearable.
But the bliss of pure looking would help him through.
He always used to say that when he was particularly unhappy he would turn to painting.
The view out of the window or plants -
things from which human beings didn't directly crop up.
LUCIAN FREUD: 'The subject matter has always been dictated by
'the way my life's gone and I noticed then,
'that when I switched away from people
'was when I was under particular strain.
'I didn't feel so like staring at people or bodies all day.'
The depth of scrutiny achieved in the paintings of people was
equalled in other subjects.
But sooner or later Lucian always regained his nerve,
painting what excited him most - people.
After three decades of absence, he took on his mother as a subject.
When his father Ernst died in 1970, Lucie had attempted suicide.
She took an overdose and she was rushed off to hospital
and had her stomach pumped out but there was some damage
and the result was that she was no longer
the sparkling, brilliant, bright, funny person she had been.
And she was a shadow of her former self.
In this condition, Lucian could tolerate his mother.
He picked her up most days and brought her to the studio.
He looked after her, but he never flinched from showing
the history of their fraught relationship.
She had read his love letters, was too intrusive,
so he puts her with his lover Jacquetta.
Beneath her chair is a pestle and mortar
used for grinding pigment.
The sexual symbolism is there.
The painting is heavy with emotional tension.
lover and the struggle to depict reality.
It also shows devotion to every exquisite detail.
It was terribly morbid, what he was doing,
and I'm not sure that emotionally, I respond to
the idea of painting somebody who is no longer the person they were.
He told me he didn't like his mother!
They're wonderful actually though, I think.
I mean, he... He...
It probably is a way of being with her
and he didn't have to say anything.
Freud painted many members of his family.
In 1961, he had three more daughters by three different girlfriends.
As they grew up, Lucian brought them into his life.
One way was by asking them to sit for him.
I did two paintings first before I did any nudes,
and then I thought, "Well, you know, I know that's what he would like,"
so I tried it out and as soon as I started I just felt fine,
there was no weird feeling, ever.
If you've got a father who paints naked women -
that's what he does,
that's his thing, then it would be so much more strange
if he didn't want to paint you naked.
Why would you... What would that be expressing?
Maybe I was quite a ferocious teenager and I could, at any point
in that painting, I could leap up and do whatever I wanted.
I think there's a sort of languor because of the hand over
the eyes but there's also a lot of force, the muscles in my legs
look quite pumped up and I look quite a forceful person.
It is incredible to me how completely my arm is still my arm.
That is EXACTLY the shape of my arm.
I remember being a little disappointed by the painting
myself, aged 16, I wanted to be a great beauty
and there I was, myself.
I did think that I looked like a very large person in the painting
and I'm quite a small person, and I said, "Oh, gosh,
"I'm not as big as that," and he said, "That's what you think."
And I always liked that cos I think what he was saying was, you are a big person.
But I just remember thinking,
he's not trying to depict an image of me, he's painting who I am.
I think that when you look at his naked portraits
you get the strongest sense of what it is like to occupy a body.
The fact that just beneath the surface of all of our skins
there's surging blood and nerves going haywire.
Even on the skin itself there are rashes,
there's a whole history of sunburn or eczema, you know,
a lifetime of response to the environment and so on,
conveying an incredibly strong sense of their physical presence
and registering, in this way, what's unknown and unknowable about his sitters.
It might be said that Lucian himself was unknowable.
He found the world strange and he seemed strange to others.
He liked it like that.
It was more his personality that was so astounding
and the way he behaved, he was rather badly behaved
and rebellious in terms of my child's perspective.
He used to ring the house and my stepfather used to answer
and in the way that people did in those days, he would say,
"Coleman's Hatch, 231, who's speaking please?"
My father just wasn't going to have anything to do with that kind of formality.
He'd say, "Hello? Hello?"
They knew who each other were but he wasn't doing it.
So he used to phone the phone box instead. Me and my sister
would run down the hill as the phone was ringing at an appointed hour.
And speak to him at certain points of the week and that was really much more fun.
It felt as if we were the naughty children and the adults
and the teachers were the boring grown-ups.
He did this thing with his eyes, he would look at something
and then he would look, open his eyes more to sort of take
it in and so he'd be quite, kind of, you know,
"Come in!" and you felt like he was just there
and that he might just fly off at any time.
And then he'd look at things and take it in.
And I remember thinking, "I like the way he did that."
And I used to copy him when I was at school
and I'd kind of look at things like that.
After a lifetime of keeping his family and lovers
at a safe distance from each other, and from him,
in 1980 he started a painting which included two lovers
and three children.
It was his largest painting to date and for the first time,
based on the work of an old master.
I feel that Lucian was...
was erecting a kind of scaffolding, um,
a hammy-theatrical situation which we all know
when we look at the picture is just that it's false,
it's made up, it's theatrical.
We know that they're mimicking a pose
from a great painting from art history,
we know that they're not wearing their natural clothes.
And yet they're also still in Lucian's actual studio,
and you're aware of that -
the floorboards, the paint on the walls and so on.
And slowly, as you look at it,
the scaffolding sort of falls away in your mind.
Just by being made aware of it, it's sort of encouraged to fall away.
You're made conscious of the artifice of the thing
and what's left is these sort of gorgeous human presences
devoid of any fiction or any attempt to be captured in some way
and there's something sort of gorgeous about them.
That was a really hard picture to sit for,
it was so uncomfortable, sitting upright holding this horrible mandolin
and wearing this really uncomfortable dress
that had gold thread in which was rather prickly
and also, when we were all together,
all the heat from the different bodies
was really uncomfortable but then after he'd sketched it in and put us in place,
we'd be probably two at a time and sometimes alone.
When he was with a person, nobody else mattered to him
and I think he was, um, challenged to do a painting
with a lot of people that mattered to him in his life, all together.
But the interesting thing in that painting is that I only ever
sat with Bella, I never sat with any of the other figures in the painting
so I think it gives it quite a melancholy feeling, this,
all the individuals are sort of isolated in their own inner space.
The reason that it comes off so brilliantly is that it's got
the different nervous feelings of the sitters.
The whole painting has a kind of feeling
of people not quite getting on or part of a circle,
and, of course, the focus of the whole painting is Lucian. They're there because of Lucian
and you get this very strong feeling
that this is Lucian's great studio painting.
And to produce that in the late 20th century was absolutely extraordinary.
Lucian's painting and his ambitions grew in the '80s and I think that
things were, for once, beginning to go slightly well for him.
He had a nice studio, he was beginning to know some success,
he was financially, already exceedingly well off,
I think that he was possibly becoming slightly more genial.
Uh, and he certainly became more productive.
Lucian's career was thriving in Britain.
He was no longer Lu of Paddington.
Mr Freud had a studio in upmarket Holland Park.
And in his 60s, America beckoned.
A touring exhibition caught the eye of a radical curator.
The thing that made me feel
that we should proceed with a Lucian Freud exhibition
was that this was an artist who was painting in a way that seemed
quite different from anything else that I had seen anywhere.
You know, you think of a surgeon as someone who scrutinises someone
and looks at someone very, very carefully
but when you stop to think about the surgeon actually only
looks at one small part of the part that he's going to operate on.
The rest of it's all covered with sheets or whatever.
Freud, whether he's working on an elbow
or whether he's working on an ear or an eye or whatever,
it's the entire figure that becomes important
and I just hadn't seen anything like that.
The 1987 Hirshhorn Show kick-started Freud's international reputation.
His work became less directly autobiographical and more ambitious.
The thing that Lucian did was make a long career
of doing fundamentally the same things, over and over,
in the same small rooms,
and yet constantly giving you the feeling, and I think it was true,
that he was reinventing the process from scratch,
and that he was taking this incredible risk in doing so.
He didn't know how it would come out.
That's what makes really great painting,
this sense of risk that you feel as well,
of overcoming this thing,
and not something that just is so easy and so repetitious
that it has a quality of being riskless.
Lucian always had to challenge himself.
He always had to push himself further,
and as he got older he started doing more and more ambitious paintings.
He was in his late 60s when he did the two By The Rags.
I think this was a sort of test on himself.
It was a test on his concentration and a test on his memory.
When he was nearly the age of 70 Lucian found a startling new model,
Leigh Bowery, a performance artist.
He became a close friend,
but perhaps initially Freud chose him
because he was lost in wonder at Leigh's substantial body.
He loved the way that Leigh would volunteer extraordinary poses,
very taxing poses, three or four hours at a time at least
with your leg up and blood draining away.
The first one is really beautiful, but I think,
to my mind, an element of showbiz came in slightly.
I'm sure thousands of people would disagree with me,
but I feel there was more of a consciousness of the great museums,
and I don't think that was there before.
Yes, these are theatrical paintings,
but he was somebody who thought that theatricality
is part of the whole studio experience,
and that's why his paintings were done, I think.
He wanted to do big paintings,
grand paintings, paintings that challenged the pose
more than an ordinary sitter would possibly be capable of.
Freud's confrontational male flesh in his new paintings
was too much for the London galleries.
They thought no-one would buy them.
But having seen the exhibition at the Hirshhorn
one of America's most influential art dealers
dropped in to Freud's studio.
He pulls out the first Leigh Bowery painting,
which was Leigh Bowery's back.
And then he pulls out Leigh Bowery with a leg up,
and he pulls out one more Leigh Bowery in a red chair.
And by the way does this all by himself, and they're huge paintings,
he doesn't want anyone touching them, he pulls them out, no problem.
I see these three paintings, and I was absolutely taken by them.
The monumentality of them, I thought they were so fabulous,
and I turned to my wife and...
because I had been told before this
by a lot of dealers and friends of mine in London
that he was painting these male nudes and they are totally unsaleable,
and, you know, he's difficult to deal with all this kind of stuff.
Anyway, I asked my wife, "Do you think these are erotic?"
He had left the room. "Do you think these are erotic paintings?"
And she said, "No." I said, "Well I don't either. I think they're unbelievable."
So he came back in and I said, "If I can represent you worldwide,
"let's do it, if you'd like to."
I said, "There's no contract, if it doesn't work for you, you tell me, we stop.
"If it doesn't work for me I'm going to tell you and we stop, it's over."
When we agreed to work with each other we were having dinner,
and he said, "You know, I have a gambling debt,
"would you take care of it for me and see what you can do about it?"
I said, "Sure, no problem." What can it be? A gambling debt?
So I met with the bookie and I said, "I'd like to take care...
"find out what Lucian owes,"
and he said, "That's wonderful, Bill, it's £2.7 million."
I said, "What?!"
In his 80s, far from slowing down, the variety of painting quickened.
Lucian continued to spring surprises.
He created a stir with his own brand of unflattering society portraits,
including an uncompromising portrait of the Queen.
I said, I suppose, perhaps rather cheekily to Her Majesty,
I think at some race meeting,
"What you think of Mr Freud's painting?"
"Very interesting", she said. Well, that can mean anything.
Whereas Prince Philip said,
"You're something mad being painted by that man."
Andrew Parker Bowles was also mad.
Well, it wasn't quite how I saw myself
but everybody else thought it was a wonderful picture.
I think, actually, except for my stomach showing and jacket undone,
I think he's painted the uniform brilliantly, which is not easy.
In 2007 Lucian flew to New York
in Bill Acquavella's private jet to see a major show of his work.
He travelled light, one spare shirt in a carrier bag.
He visited old friends, and stayed at the best hotel.
We had our own grand piano in the sitting room in the hotel suite,
so we tried to find a pianist then to come and play for us.
And then it was straight, so we arrived,
straight into the hotel, straight into MoMA
for one very rare occasion, Lucian actually came to the opening.
But within half an hour, 40 minutes, I mean,
people were just turning up, realising Lucian was there,
and we were just getting mobbed.
So we had to leave, in a sense,
it was a bit like a rock star or something appearing.
I think this has got so much to do with love
and the intimacy of two people spending their lives together.
The physical closeness, how their limbs are wrapped round each other,
shows an awful lot of trust within their relationship.
They seem very at ease.
I think when this painting was being made
this would be the main focus in their lives,
to be in this position every day for Lucian to make this painting happen.
And this painting of Big Sue is a day painting, painted in daylight.
And we went down Portobello Market
to find this old chenille type wall hanging.
But it is remarkable
when you look down into her feet,
and then into, through into the chair and back up.
It just shows you what life can be about.
And his life was always painting.
And, you know, now he's no longer here,
but these are just knockout to be around these again.
And 16 million to start it. 16 million for it.
At 16 million.
16 million. 17 million. 18 million,
At 18 million. 19 million.
At 19 million. 20 million. At 20 million.
At 20 million. 20,500,000,
Ahead of you at 21,500,000.
They are among my favourite of his paintings, the self portraits.
There is one particular where he sort of...
A very sort of smoky, bluey grey,
and his hair and his face, so tender,
almost like he has so much compassion for himself
as a much more fragile person,
and actually, I felt
looked much more fragile in that painting than he did in real life.
When he was in his 80s, he suddenly ask me to cut his hair.
I loved doing that because I hadn't ever really touched him that much.
So it was really lovely to run my hands through his hair and stuff.
He said, "You know, for me it's very difficult to do a self-portrait
"because I don't want to make myself look too good,
"but I don't want to make myself look too bad.
"And to get it just right is very difficult."
And that's the struggle, I think, with anyone doing a self-portrait
that is really honest about his painting.
And Lucian, he gets that. He just gets it.
I also have another portrait in my private collection,
a painting called Nude with the Blue Toenails.
And the reflection of Lucian's head is on the white mattress cloth.
And just from the shadow, and the shape of his hair,
you see immediately that it's Lucian's head.
He said that when he was painting this painting
he was thinking about that song
that comes at the moment where Gary Cooper has to face his enemy.
And he says, "I have to face the man who hates me,
"or die a coward in my grave."
And that was what went into this painting.
And it is looking at himself without narrative or without pity,
without rehearsing an explanation for anything.
# Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'
# On this our wedding day
# Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'
# Wait, wait long. #
At 28 million.
Yes. 28,500,000. At 28,500,000.
PILAR ORDOVAS: He never admitted that he cared at all about what happened at the auction.
At 29 million.
He, naturally, wanted to know the result but
I don't think it really mattered to him.
For him, when paintings left the studio
they had a life to live on their own.
This side now, 29,500,000.
I really wanted him to see the auction and what had happened,
and I put it up on the screen.
He was much more fascinated looking at the people
and look at that interesting posture,
or look at that other person, who is that, what are they doing?
much more so than really to look at the result.
At 30 million now. 30 million.
It's on this telephone, and selling, fair warning, at 30 million.
No. Brett, your bidder at 30 million.
It was always amazing when you went into his house.
He'd come to the door
and give you a shy smile,
his head would sort of be slightly bowed.
And I just remember feeling, it was such a special feeling,
just coming in, and walking into that house.
And I never wanted to say anything, apart from, "Hello, and how are things?"
The first two or three minutes
were always the most magical in a way,
just walking into that house.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Painted Life explores the life and work of Lucian Freud, undoubtedly one of Britain's greatest artists. Freud gave his full backing to the documentary shortly before his death. Uniquely, he was filmed painting his last work, a portrait of his assistant David Dawson.
Lucian Freud: Painted Life also includes frank testimony from those who knew and loved this extraordinary personality. Members of his large family (he had at least fourteen children by a number of different women), close friends including David Hockney and Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, his dealers, his sitters and his former lovers recall for the first time a complex man who dedicated his life to his art and who always sought to transmute paint into a vibrant living representation of humanity.
The film shows how Freud never swam with the flow and only achieved celebrity in older age. He rejected the artistic fashions of his time, sticking to figurative art and exploring portraiture, especially with regards to nude portraiture, which he explored with a depth of scrutiny that produced some of the greatest works of our time.
This documentary is both a definitive biography and a revelatory exploration of the creative process.