Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

May 15, 2008

Is Lucian Freud’s painting really worth $33 M?

A painting by Lucian Freud sold by a private European collector for $33.6 million became the world’s most expensive workart by a living artist.
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping beat the world auction record for a work by a living artist, held by the American artist Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold), which fetched $23.5 million when it was sold by Sotheby’s last year.
Although it’s hard to compare the two of them, considering that Supervisor Sleeping is a painting and Hanging Heart it’s a sculpture of stainless steel, le’s take a look and compare them from an aesthetic point of view.

Lucian Freud: Benefits Supervisor Sleeping
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Jeff Koons: Hanging Heart
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Lucian Freud is the grandson of Sigmund Freud and it is being considered in the same league with Titian, Rubens and Velázquez (not by me!!)
Take a look and compare for yourself.

Rubens:Venus at the mirror
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I tried to be objective while watching Freud’s painting, but the only thought in my mind was regarding the sanity of the painter and of the people paying $33.6 million for it.
Do you feel any pleasure looking at the picture? For me it’s just a boost to go to the gym.
Would I hang it on the living room wall?
Definitely not.

Art critics would say that we, the common mortals, don’t now anything about art. That may be true, but if art means something that turns my stomach, then I prefer to remain ignorant.

Here are expert opinions regarding Hanging Heart:
“Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, said: “Hanging Heart is a stainless steel monument from a body of work so rare, so surreal and so beautiful that one almost ceases to believe it exists. Executing this work required extraordinary precision, finesse and lavish attention to achieve such perfection of the highest order. Koons is an artist who doesn’t allow compromise, and Hanging Heart is all about making an impossibility possible.”
Alex Rotter, Senior Vice President and Senior Specialist of Contemporary Art, continued: “This is a simply unforgettable work. Hanging Heart is both powerful and romantic – the quintessential reflection of sexuality. It is highly desirable and the perfect match for this icon-driven market.”

In our modern times we have art galleries targeting the shock effect, because that eventually will translate into headlines and money.
Charles Saatchi – owner or Saatchi Gallery- regularly stages exhibitions with artworks that include pedophilic images. I wonder how much Saatchi would enjoy artworks depicting his own kids?
But Saatchi knows very well the tricks of the trade, he knows that the contemporary art collecting scene is not dominated by students of the beautiful (read: ignorant mortals), but by investment bankers and Japanese businessmen who want to buy into a lucrative market.
And so, artists like Freud became the reflection of our times when money has taken over as the sole criterion of whether or not we value a work of art.
Some critics consider Lucian Freud as a genius, other are more lukewarm toward him.

This is another Freud’s painting with the same ‘muse’ as the previous one.

Lucian Freud: Evening in the Studio
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Nope, I don’t like this one either. It’s grotesque.
I would not even dare to compare Freud with Rubens. Rubens fat women don’t turn my stomach because somehow, Rubens celebrates life.
What I understand from Freud’s paintings is his bitterness against women combined with his mocking of all the suckers paying million of dollars to buy the expression of his hate.

And now go back and take a look again at Hanging Heart, because it will make you happy, not feeling slimy.


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