There’s so much to love about Lucian Freud, who has died. He painted, and painted realist portraits. His subject was so traditional: nudes, animals. He was a private man and didn’t much speak to the press.
He was everything that conceptual art is not.
His friend, the critic William Feaver, was just on the radio describing his secret: Freud looked, took the time to know – and when an artist truly sees something amazing happens. ‘The way he looked at things, bits of our bodies, the world around us, us, himself, completely unsentimentally, completely clear, searching: this is something that is majestic, masterly, wonderful – showing ourselves to ourselves.’
I suppose that conceptual art doesn’t require you to look that much. Why would you, when you don’t make your work, and are more interested in the next idea?
Freud’s concentration was a penetrating attention. He could scrutinise what is, and it was a kind of love. He loved Sue Tilley’s stretch marks, Feaver continued. He stood up for humanity in an age when people want to escape their ensouled flesh by perfecting their bodies. Fascinating that there’s less to love then.