For Lucian Freud

This is weird. Straightaway Kensington rooftops then a glimpse through a window, as if I’d seen it before. These people are familiar. We see them on the street, in the newsagent, in those boots sometimes, shuffling. Why the hawk? A Peregrine Falcon? Keen eyes and full of energy. I had no idea this film existed until I stumbled upon it today, so now I will share it.

He died last July. It seemed very sudden. People recalled seeing him just a few days before. He was our neighbour; we have one of his easels; he came with Andrew Parker Bowles to frame a photograph of his painting, but he didn’t stay long. I would see Sally Clarke delivering food to his door, like meals on wheels. We all saw his quiet authority, his intense dedication, his sanctified genius. We all miss him.

And another national treasure. Hockney is everywhere these days having recently occupied the Royal Academy. He is a populariser of the national landscape by turning up the colour volume. A bigger noise. His enthusiasm is contagious, as is his popularity. He is presently irresistible. So it was fun to read this comment a few days ago from Edward Lucie-Smith –

I amused myself at tonight’s preview by imagining some of these huge coarse canvases as scenery for a provincial panto. Tracey Emin in tights as Robin Hood, Hockney himself puffing on a ciggie as Robin’s outspoken mum, Damien Hirst as the wicked Sheriff of Bridlington, and Grayson Perry in his best baby-doll outfit as Maid Marion.

Lucian Freud’s paintings will be exhibited in Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, 9 February – 27 May.

Frames of reference

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