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July 23, 2011  | by: Svenja van den Woldenberg

Lucian Freud

The grandson of psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud, famous for reinventing portrait painting, Lucian Freud died of an unknown illness on Wednesday in London.

William Acquavella of Acquavella Galleries, Mr. Freud’s art dealer, made the announcement public. The Washington Post wrote, “Often considered the greatest living master of the human form, Mr. Freud painted many hundreds of portraits that were seldom flattering but that revealed their subjects in searing, sometimes brutal honesty that might have made his grandfather proud.”

Acquavella described Freud “as one of the great painters of the 20th Century. In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty. He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world.”

Freud was most famous for his nude portraits, one of which, an overweight nude woman on a couch called “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, was sold at auction in 2008 for a record setting $33.6 million, the most money that has been paid in the world for the work of a living artist.

According to the New York Times, Freud set up his studios in run down neighborhoods and was a wild gambler. His influences can be traced back to Albrecht Dürer and the Flemish masters like Hans Memling. Later in life, he was also influenced by Georg Grosz, Otto Dix, and others, who practiced the German Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity. The painter also experimented with Surrealism for a short period but rejected the style.

“I could never put anything into a picture that wasn’t actually there in front of me,” he told art critic Robert Hughes when speaking about Surrealism.“That would be a pointless lie, a mere bit of artfulness.”

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