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The legendary figure of the younger generation: Lucian Freud’s critical reception

Critical responses to Lucian Freud’s work varied enormously over his lifetime, ranging from the early favour he received within cultural circles up until the 1950s, to comparative neglect in later decades, to his eventual return, by the end of the twentieth century, to a position of assured centrality. This talk excavates the newspaper and magazine reviews and responses to Freud’s work over time, charting how his reputation was cultivated, and contextualised, through the lens of transatlantic contemporary art journalism.


Nathan O’Donnell is an IRC Enterprise Postdoctoral Research Fellow, based between IMMA & TRIARC, as part of the IMMA Collection Freud Project. He is also one of the co-editors of Paper Visual Art Journal, and his first book, on Wyndham Lewis’s art criticism, is forthcoming from Liverpool University Press.

About the Artist

Lucian Freud 1922–2011

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) was one of the greatest realist painters of the 20th century. Renowned for his portrayal of the human form, Freud is best known for his intimate, honest, often visceral portraits. Working only from life Freud’s studio was intensely private and he mainly worked with those he was close to, often asking subjects to sit for hundreds of hours over multiple sittings to better capture the essence of their personality.
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