Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud

Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud share the same subject matter i. e. the human form however both have very different approaches to recording their observations and ideas and it’s an approach that I’ve become accustomed to because I like it as it allows absolute freedom in artistic expression. Saville produces large-scale pieces of work and uses impasto in a similar way to Freud however notably less thick and blockier. She chooses to work in such a way as she wanted ‘people to know what it is they’re looking at. But at the same time, the closer they get to the painting; it’s like going back into childhood.

And it’s like an abstract piece… it becomes the landscape of the brush marks rather than just sort of an intellectual landscape’ this way of working is prominent in the painting ‘Rosetta 2’. The formidable scales of the paintings are awe-inspiring and really capture the eyes of the viewer. Using oils, she makes highly pigmented work, employing a gorgeous palette that conveys the effect of creamy, liquid skin poured directly onto the canvas. The brushwork is very dynamic and aesthetically pleasing; the skin has a rich look to it. The subdued colour range of blues, greys and muted pink create a bleaker natural form.

The best of Jenny Savilles work in my opinion would be her series of photographs with Glen Luchford the fashion photographer. Produced in 1995, the collaboration produces some exciting and bizarrely beautiful work. Commenting on the work and her intentions she says ‘the boundary of our bodies, which we presume is so fixed and can only exist in that certain area, can be extended so far. This movement, malleability of flesh, I started to think about that quite a lot’. ‘Closed Contact no. 4, fig (vi)’ Photographed from an elevated angle through a glass plate, shows Saville contorting her body whilst pressed up against Plexiglas.

The piece definitely is appropriate to her intentions as she manages to distort her body enough so that we have no clear visual point of reference; there are no “boundaries”. I appreciate this image because she has abstracted herself and pushed her body to extremes also its very different from her paintings there are no definitive lines instead folds of flesh frame the image that is what I like most. One aspect that differentiates both artists’ similar styles is Savilles expression of anger; her work from the turn of the millennium onwards explores more violent themes and showcases brilliant reds and blues slashing through her figures.

Her work is overtly violent were Freuds is more muted. Evidence of her violent expression is in the painting Witness fig (vii), it is a very bleak portrayal of the human form that commands a reaction. I like the harsh and unforgiving light created by the varying toes of purple and red. Freud said, “The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real. ” This principle is prominent throughout his work and his 1985 self-portrait best embodies his saying.

In the portrait the face appears distorted, yet the intensity of what the artist is trying to convey remains in every thick stroke and restores the reality of it. His work is unquestionably more abstract as he plays with the true tone of the subject and the strokes appear wilder, blockier but ultimately freer. There is a level of realism achieved in this piece that surpasses his earlier work. The self- portrait captures a powerful aura one that can only be achieved through careful observation and not working from photographs and fretting over accuracy. I like how the segments of slightly different colours come to form an exciting image.

A piece of work I really like of Freuds is his portrait of the queen some hated it for its brutal depiction of Queen Elizabeth II but I like it for the level of emotion he manages to capture in this one painting. For me what makes the portrait is the inner struggle to supress a smile. For the Queen to have her portrait forever show the containment of personal laughter is an historic way for her to mark the new millennium. I like it also because it shows his integrity as an artist, he favours no one and he painted the ageing Queen as ruthlessly as he had painted his ageing self.

Freud’s application remains very thick like in most of his work, which I like as it adds age and wisdom to the face. Freud’s best-known work ‘Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ it is a piece which truly fascinates. When compared to photographs of what the model looks like in reality we can see he’s obviously played with it. He did so “since the painting is going to be there on its own, it is of no interest whether it is an accurate copy of the model” he ages the model and somehow made her more obese and splotchy.

Both Freud and Saville fail to omit bruises and calluses and visible veins, they don’t idealise the body but show it for what it is complete with overtly sexual overtones I’ve chosen to look at the work of Freud and Saville because I enjoy their work as well as I like the way in which they use paint. They look at the human form objectively, removing the humanity. This is an approach to painting and drawing from life that I’d like to develop in my own work.

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