Freud Denied Painting It, but the Questions Linger

The “New Yorker” looks into the history of a disputed piece of art by Lucian Freud. 
Before he died in 2011, the famous British painter Lucian Freud vehemently denied that he had painted a work that had been attributed to him in the late 1990s. You might think that was the last thing to say about that.

But, as Sam Knight writes in a long piece for The New Yorker, it is most definitely not the case. The argument is still going on, and there is a lot at stake. The painting of a naked man seen from the side could be worth a lot of money or nothing at all. (Click on the link to The New Yorker to see it.) As Knight talks about the different ways “Standing Male Nude” has been analyzed, you’ll switch back and forth between the “no, it’s not” and “yes, it is” camps. One who uses AI makes a strong case that Freud, who is the grandson of Sigmund, is in fact the painter.

But if that’s true, why would he deny it? The story looks into this angle and says that artists, like Picasso, have been known to “lie or make things confusing” about some of their works. One way of thinking is that an artist has every right to do this if he or she thinks a painting isn’t good enough or was left unfinished.

One thing that most people agree on about this painting is that it is a “dud,” as one of Freud’s old dealers put it. (He’s not sure, but he thinks it’s Freud.) Freud could be cranky, and he may or may not have called the collector who bought the work to offer to buy it, only to get angry when he was turned down. (Read the whole story, where Knight says, “At a certain point, it stops being about the painting and becomes a search for deeper, even more, impossible forms of validation.


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