Lucian Freud, widely regarded as the greatest figurative painter of our time, spent seven months painting a portrait of the art critic Martin Gayford. The daily narrative of their encounters takes the reader into that most private place, the artist’s studio, and to the heart of the working methods of this modern master – both technical and subtly psychological.
From this emerges an understanding of what a portrait is, but something else is also built up: a portrait, in words, of Freud himself. This is not a biography, but a series of close-ups: the artist at work, and in conversation in restaurants, in taxis and in his studio itself. It takes one into the company of the painter for whom Picasso, Giacometti and Francis Bacon were friends and contemporaries, as were writers such as George Orwell and W. H. Auden.
The book is illustrated with many of Lucian Freud’s other works, as well as telling photographs taken by David Dawson of Freud at work, and images by such great artists of the past as Van Gogh and Titian, discussed by Freud with Gayford.