This exhibition of around 160 works will be the largest Lucian Freud retrospective to date, and almost certainly the last during his lifetime. The show’s curator, William Feaver, has written an invaluable catalogue essay presenting a great deal of previously unknown information about Freud’s life and work. Freud himself admits to being “very curious” to see what his paintings will look like hanging together. “But then, after all, my work wasn’t created as an entire body,” he adds. “It’s not like writing a verse play and then seeing the entire play when you’ve written the last verse.” The retrospective, at Tate Britain (20 June-22 September) will include a few unknown early works and a group of recently completed paintings (left), including a very new self-portrait. It will not, however, include Freud’s much publicised portrait of the Queen, which is on display at Buckingham Palace in “The royal treasures”, an exhibition celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. “I wanted to have an end that shows it’s not an end but a work in progress,” said Mr Feaver—although he claimed that Freud definitely does see this retrospective as definitive. “It’s taken an awfully long time just getting the loans”. “Some of the most generous lenders have been those from the British Isles. They’re very friendly with Lucian and know him well.” The exhibition will come free of the warning signs about potentially unsuitable subject matter (code for “too many penises”) which accompanied the otherwise hugely successful show that went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1993. “Lucian’s very much against piety and his pictures are against piety,” said Mr Feaver, “but unfortunately there’s a lot of piety around about what’s proper and what’s improper.” Freud’s paintings, he says, “are so direct and full of life. Really everything in his life goes into the paintings.”
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'What's on: Lucian Freud'