on the back of: use and abuse?

Lucian Freud’s art could be termed anti-romantic and confrontational.And just plain creepy.  He tended to represent people as he saw them, and between what he perceived and came out on canvas we will never really understand all the processes involved. But the result was not pretty.Demystifying but ultimately restrained and at its extreme ,even cruel in that sexual bait found its way into the naked human psyche  and not usually in a liberating or empathetic sense.  Freud was sometimes seen as a merciless artist, and certainly his belief in capturing the truth as he saw it meant that his eye could see the weakness and absurdities of almost any sitter.

There were always bits and pieces that evoke a fragmented, conflicted person, a body and even a soul wanting integration, that he could withold.  The intensified familiarity at which Freud aimed his art, both formally and more importantly, psychologically, eliminated all generality in favor of this extreme particularity. His intimacy distracts and destroys as well as focuses and ultimately cherishes. But that road was littered with metaphorical corpses.

---If nakedness was not discomforting and primitive enough, Lucian posed his models on cots, as though they were prisoners in the solitary cell of the picture. The narrow cot was all the more uncomfortable because one end often leaned on the floor while the other was raised, forming a steep incline that the model could slide off, as though falling into an emotional abyss -- which is what we see in many medieval scenes of hell and its tortures. In fact the model was often on a mattress flat on the floor, as though already fallen -- damned. Cruelly and precariously positioned, as though in free fall, the model seems condemned to a lonely death. Indeed, Freud looks at his models with the same detachment and aloofness -- he often views them from above, as though on a higher plane of consciousness -- with which an executioner looks at his victim....Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit8-19-02.asp

…Dreams might be able to be read, which is to say interpreted as wish-symbols which, made conscious, could then be striven after in reality. However, dreams can also be too seductive, countering activity. Did not Sigmund Freud say that the dream is a trick to keep us sleeping? The technique of awakening was never completed.You have to wonder if Lucian’s  does the art subliminally mine the incestual undertones of Freud, the taboo, while using overt sexuality, almost necrophilia as a decoy; always jumping between a figurative and graphic language of design with the more inscrutable language of paint and texture to which he played out his little dramas.

---Laura Cumming:And that has always been the dividing issue of Freud's art: emotional honesty versus living form. Was he painting these people with loving scrutiny, his eye registering their individual mortality with as much attentiveness as their callouses, pocks and veins; or was he mastering their bodies as objects (or more precisely as animals, as he once declared)?...It turns out he thought Picasso emotionally dishonest and Matisse infinitely greater because he painted the life of forms, which, he told the writer Martin Gayford, "is what art is all about". Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/jul/22/lucian-freud-appreciation-laura-cumming#zoomed-picture

You wonder how Lucian Freud would have painted the Levy brothers of New York who became uber-millionaires through non-profit care for the developmentally disabled. How would Freud have represented the concept of abuse and use, something he seemed fixated on. If he stepped out of his comfort zone of the easy and familiar target of friends and family and focused on wild, less scrupulous and predatory, carnivorous game:

Philip and Joel Levy had expensive cars paid for out of public money and claimed the cost of their children’s education against the nonprofit group they ran. Philip Levy, 60, even charged the organisation $50,400 for his daughter’s living expenses whilst she attended college in New York. The money helped pay for her to buy an apartment in Greenwich Village instead of covering the cost of a dorm….

---Philip and Joel Levy were running Saturday night bingo games to support a tiny program for 15 developmentally disabled people in the early 1970s when their whole world changed. In 1972, Geraldo Rivera, then a young reporter at WABC-TV, found his way inside the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, a state-run institution that housed some 5,000 developmentally disabled residents in deplorable conditions.... Public outrage exploded....thousands of people into smaller community homes. The state released a wave of public money and turned to nonprofit providers, which opened more than 100 group homes from 1976 through 1979. The Young Adult Institute, founded by a psychologist and his wife in 1957, emerged as a leader, opening and operating a dozen group homes. The Levy brothers were determined to be a part of the revolution in care, and ascended at the Young Adult Institute, eventually taking over the top jobs in 1979... Their ambition to expand sometimes conflicted with the views of the network’s board of directors, made up mostly of parents of children with developmental disabilities, who felt that the organization should remain small and focused on their children. Over the years, the parents were replaced by professionals from other fields who supported growth. “They were the most entrepreneurial folks that I ever met,” said Barbara B. Blum, who was in charge of the deinstitutionalization effort for New York. “When we were under court order to provide all kinds of services, the Levy brothers recognized the fact that there really was a vacuum, and they walked into it.” ... The Young Adult Institute joined with other nonprofit providers to form a lobbying group, and, as the programs and spending multiplied, the relationship between the state and the providers gradually shifted. The providers gained more sophistication, expertise and power. Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/for-executives-at-group-homes-generous-pay-and-little-oversight.html?pagewanted=all

…Two days after being confronted by the New York Times both brothers resigned from the company.They denied their departure from Young Adult Institute Network, the largest operator of homes for people with developmental disabilities in New York, was related.Critics have dubbed the Levys the ‘Medicaid Moguls’ on account of the fact that they make so much money from the public purse.The have homes in the Hamptons, Sutton Place and Palm Beach Gardens and live a life of wealth and ease.Their nonprofit group The Young Adult Institute is amongst the biggest such companies in the U.S. and was paid $1 billion from Medicaid over the past 10 years.The most expensive residence it runs is on East 35th St in New York which was given $7.2million last year, or $700 for each of the 28 people per night.Read More:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021682/Medicaid-millionaires-Philip-Joel-Levy-charge-state-disabled-care.html

Kuspit: Lucian has no intention of liberating his model from the slavery of inner suffering. Instead, he exploits it to paint a “telling” portrait — without quite realizing that it tells more about his inner life than the model’s.

The notion of the censor is a key idea in Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). In a sense, the aim of dream interpretation is to lift the censorship that suppresses the meaning of the dream. …The problem is that the sitter, fearing “clinical exposure,” resists the painter’s “interrogative eye,” to use Lucian’s terms. He has said that “it is the task of the artist. . . to make the human being feel uncomfortable,” but human beings don’t want to feel uncomfortable — vulnerable and anxious. (However uncomfortable they unconsciously — and not so unconsciously

212; are.) “Professional models” and “extreme narcissists” are always comfortable with themselves and their nakedness, Lucian remarked, which is why he never uses them as his models. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit8-19-02.aspa

---In the early 1980s, Paul J. Castellani, a former official at the state agency, was overseeing the design of an algorithm that determined reimbursement rates for each developmentally disabled individual, based on his or her level of impairment. The formula was supposed to be closely held. But state officials suspected that a consultant to the providers had learned that vision problems greatly increased the rates paid. Suddenly, the nonprofit providers began reporting a big increase in the number of individuals in their care who had trouble seeing. “We called it the day everyone went blind,” said Mr. Castellani, the author of a book about the New York system of caring for the developmentally disabled. --- Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/for-executives-at-group-homes-generous-pay-and-little-oversight.html?pagewanted=all

The question to pose with Lucian Freud is how a mythic dream consciousness,a realization in the waking world :  the longing for dream fulfillment in material goods,  or an idea of love satisfied in prostitution, or the desire for human union through dependency, control and psychological colonialism;  can be shaken up,startled and forced to smell the coffee and shake off  the illusory thinking it indulges. It seems Lucian never crossed that line. Fear perhaps.

Maybe the feeling was that assertion simply of the reality of mercantile brutality and violence would fill the void. Likely, that old standby, boredom, in the end would finally force a change, through it would be unsustainable; a narrative of a history without events, a grey on grey in which the boredom returns and induces the sleeping state of which the yawn is the primal wimper, the gesture of both.  Strangely, Lucian is a kick-back to the dreaming collective, the underbelly of the Lost Generation, that collective escapism between the end of WWI and the crash at the end of the roaring twenties, the Jazz Age, which was really a sleeping sickness that infected the West sending its victims into a coma with a Janus face where social liberals would morph into conservative reactionaries.

Were Lucian Freud’s own dreams politicized?   Conceiving of the human body  as a territory,a history,  a series of spaces and spatial relationships, were his dreams and the historical roots he perceives in them  an illustrated map and travel guide  of some secret and unfathomable political ideology?  Freud’s art recalls James Joyce’s quote that  “history is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake”. Freud likely  wants to wake  from his dreams which have sauntered into some dark  historical nightmares; the weight of authority, obedience, an  imperialist mentality becomes turned in on itself, into the self of which the subject in the painting is merely the messenger.  These can be pretty  bad dreams. They reflect a  collective consciousness that  has succumbed, with little resistance,  to the spectacle. All these “nakeds” as he called them seem part of a    conformity and co-ordination, that result in a visually startling homogenous social receptacle.Which reminds of the totalitarian condition.  Freud brings a phantasmagoric consciousness,  a glossing over of the chasms of class difference, into a bizarre connection with commodity fetishism and totalitarianism, linking the  span between Sigmund Freud, meditations on the erotic stimulation of fascism and its projections onto popular culture.

---However, in terms of celeb-speak, Freud blew it big time by painting big people with love and honesty instead of hate and condescension. He painted flesh as it really is, instead of the tidy, firm, prepubescent, plasticised matter society demands it must be. Which is why Freud – or Freudesque – never made it into the exalted heights of celeb-cum-fashion-cum-media lingo. Odd, then, that when Freud painted naked big people, such as Sue Tilley, from the £17m-selling work Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, or the performance artist Leigh Bowery, he would sometimes be criticised for exploiting them, cruelly turning them into circus show grotesques. Actually, the opposite seemed true.---Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/24/lucian-freud-genital-mutilation-curry image:http://slowpainting.wordpress.com/2011/07/22/saltz-on-lucian-freud/

The circumstance of the new in Freud’s art seems illuminated by the figure of the flaneur of Charles Baudelaire.  The thirst for the new is swallowed by the crowd, which appears self-impelled and endowed with a soul of its own. Freud’s subjects appear as sacrifices to this moloch. But,  this collective is just an  appearance. This “crowd” in which the flaneur-Freud-  takes delight- titillated?-  is bacically an  empty mold subject to new castings. The flaneur, to Baudelaire  prided himself on his alertness and  nonconformity, would be also the first to fall victim to his own fatuations.

---Adrian Searle:If Freud's Bowery portraits showed his compassion for a fellow human being, his portrait of Andrew Parker-Bowles is perhaps his most insolent, scathing, and melancholy study of the self. Sprawled in uniform, Parker-Bowles – the former husband of Camilla – evokes, with his red striped trousers, glamorous 19th-century images of officers and imperial heroes. But he looks exhausted, saddened, wiped out. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2011/jul/22/top-five-lucian-freud-paintings#


Jerry Saltz: …and his claustrophobic vision of naked models forever posing in his famously dilapidated London studio, and am often struck by how the life of his art seems to drain away. Mostly what I see is nearly maniacal painterly control. Yet Freud is an important touchstone for the many of us who secretly fear that we are not naturally gifted; we who are not precocious geniuses, we non-Picassos who are always unsure that we even are what we say we are….

Jerry Saltz:It’s like being a Plato, as unthinkable as a Rockefeller's becoming a famous bohemian Abstract Expressionist in fifties America. As if the burden of a royal bloodline were not enough, few world-renowned artists strike me as having less inborn talent than Freud. His genius, such as it is, seems the direct result of someone willing himself to accomplishment. Read More:http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/07/jerry_saltz_on_lucien_freud_wh.html image:http://www.ananasamiami.com/2010/03/leigh-bowery-by-lucian-freud.html

…Thus I love Freud, even though I don’t love his work. Francis Bacon also came from moneyed roots, took his place in the cloistered English art world of the postwar years, and was a personal hero to Freud. But Bacon visibly struggled, labored, doubted. Although he made work that seemed to get into painterly ruts, he also had bursts of painterly exuberance, broke free of his repetition, arrived at highly original even revolutionary colors, and made stained surfaces that were as risky and flat Rothko’s. Freud, on the other hand, comes at you in the same ways every time; flesh for flesh’s sake; physical fervor; psychic frayed nerves. Read More:http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/07/jerry_saltz_on_lucien_freud_wh.html

---Russ Beutner:More than half of that money goes to private providers like the Levys, with little oversight of their spending. And the providers have become so big and powerful that they shape much about how the system operates, from what kinds of care are emphasized to how much they will be paid for it. “They’re bigger than government in some ways,” said Thomas A. Maul, former commissioner of the state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. “That isn’t what our system was supposed to be.” Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/for-executives-at-group-homes-generous-pay-and-little-oversight.html?pagewanted=all image:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021682/Medicaid-millionaires-Philip-Joel-Levy-charge-state-disabled-care.html

Whatever a society regulates – for instance, sexuality and the public display of the body – vigilant critics will notice, often at the expense of everything else. In a pseudointerview conducted by Bowery shortly before Freud’s 1993-94 Metropolitan Museum retrospective, the painter preempted questions that nevertheless still pursue him: “In your work the pictures of naked women are always of straight women, while the pictures of naked men are always of gay men. Why is that?” queried Bowery. The reply was flippant, yet a plausible guide to future critical genius: “I’m drawn to women by nature and to queers because of their courage.” So Freud has consistent principles. Read More:http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_n5_v35/ai_19225282/

---Lucian's two great themes are the living of death and the inevitable death of the living. The isolation of his figures conveys the existential truth of the loneliness of death. He shows the corrosive emotional effect of the growing consciousness of it, which consciousness of the body catalyzes. It has been said that nothing concentrates the mind so well as consciousness of death. Lucian's bodies, for all their provocative painterliness and sexual explicitness -- another form of manic defense -- seem wonderfully concentrated, as though mindful of their own deaths. --- Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit8-19-02.asp

Kuspit:It seems clear that Lucian knows the basics of his grandfather’s theory of dreams, at least in outline. But in his art psychoanalytic ideas lose their therapeutic purpose. Sadistic clinical exposure was never Sigmund’s purpose; it became, however unconsciously, Lucian’s main purpose. Once again cruelty is the royal road to major art in modernity, that is, art that conveys the corrosive effect on the self of living in the cruel modern world: with the death of Francis Bacon — who encouraged Lucian to make the transition from socially polite to existentially potent art — Lucian became the greatest English master of the anti-heroic body. The stresses of life are inscribed in its uncensored flesh. Flesh becomes uncanny in Lucian’s paintings — the flesh of feeling, more crucially, the flesh that conveys the feeling of inhabiting what Max Scheler called the lived body. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit8-19-02.asp

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