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41
3.9 out of 5 stars
Breakfast with Lucian
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
Lucien Freud was not a simple man. Indeed, he was not always a likeable man. He was, however, a great man. This book portrays the complexity and the greatness with equal adroitness, helped by the fact that the author, Geordie Greig, knew him well in his latter years. While the friendship is the reason the book exists, and why it has its title, Greig has not written a piece of hagiography but a biography which reveals an enormous amount about the man and his work.
It is not a conventional biography following a strict chronology, but a work which attempts to reveal the real Freud. In some ways it can be likened to the painter's work; it draws on particular features of its subject and does not flinch from an honest representation. At times Freud's refusal to behave in the way society expects offends, but Greig does not attempt to justify or exonerate except in that he is giving a true portrait. Freud appears solipsistic to unacceptable levels and Greig recounts his treatment of women and, at times, his children with honesty and with a critical voice, but this is tempered by the affection with which even those he has treated badly regard him.
Greig does not write from the point of view of an art critic and this is the book's strength to the non-expert but interested reader. Insight into Freud's paintings is given with a personal touch: the sitter is of as much interest to Greig as the painting. The illustrations which are dotted through the text take on a new resonance after reading of the painting's genesis and both the sitter and the work is enhanced by this. Greig also provides comment on Freud's techniques in a way which helps explain what has always been familiar when looking at a Freud painting - the thick application of paint and the attention to the minutiae of his subject.
What is impressive about the book is the way in which the differing strands are tied together in a sophisticated and coherent way. As the book develops the strands become more and more united and a rounded picture emerges . Greig uses testimony from many of Freud's friends and, while Freud's life reached a complexity which is hard to reconcile, the book never confuses and some of the verbatim conversations cited capture the character excellently. It is personal in tone, and the account of Freud's death is genuinely moving, but it is none the worse for that.
I feel I understand Freud better than I did previously and that is the mark of a good biography.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2013
A couple of weeks ago The Daily Mail[cue dry heaving and gagging]ran extracts from Breakfast With Lucian proclaiming it a "brilliant new biography" without hesitating I went straight to amazon and pre ordered.I find Lucien totally captivating in every aspect from his work to the scarfs he always wore.I paid full whack admission price too.
First off the book is a slender,paltry 238 pages long NOT a massive doorstop job I was hoping for,you know the type of book Freud deserves.
This is very much a coffee table book,nice to look at,some nice photos.Is it worth parting twenty quid for?Hmmm....really this depends on your income or how frivolous you are financially.It is essentially the extracts that had appeared in The Daily Mail padded out.
What I did not know at the time was author Geordie Greig is the editor of The Mail On Sunday.....hmmmm thus the nice plug.
Breakfast With Lucian is most certainly not a "brilliant new biography".
The plaudits screaming from the cover from such luminaries as Tom Wolfe and V.S Naipaul left me stroking my chin in cynical bafflement.
Tom Wolfe;"A superb flawlessly crafted portrait....."
Erm....no Tom.Once again Greigs role as editor of Mail On Sunday brings about notions of an author and editor rubbing one another's back.
It goes without saying Lucian would've despised the book and I do question the motives of Greig.He seems a rather snobbish man to be honest,smugly proud of his son Jaspar talking precociously about Bacon when he's ten or something,but in that snide clever kid way.
What do you get?A bit of salacious gossip here and there.A few revealing interviews with some of the many children.Nothing major or to write home about.Freud's work itself is skimmed across,there seems to be no real artistic chewing of the teeth.
Damien Hirst is spelt Damien Hurst for lordy's sake.
My punctuation sucks but hey I am not publishing a book and asking twenty squid for it!
There is a major biography due in 2015 this will be the thing to get.
The stupid thing is I would have probably still bought this book as I am so drawn to the subject.For the more partial reader get one of the many books with Freuds work in it or The Man With A Blue Scarf.
Breakfast With Lucian is an inconsequential treatment on a towering presence and endlessly complex individual.
I was tempted to write to Greig directly and ask for a refund.No doubt he would be busy drinking expensive wine and nibbling on a nobble of cheese.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2013
There have been prissy little critical reviews of this wonderful book in the press, mostly by art critics who don't get a mention. For anyone who wishes to flesh out - the right word, flesh! - this is essential. Freud emerges from this book with new detail. He is unsurprisingly an extraordinary and highly individual character. There are many ghosts occupying a place at breakfast; but although people were central to his life we are given an opportunity to see his absolute dedication at work. And it is his work that shadows through this book, and it sent me back to the catalogues with renewed enquiry. A book that anyone who loves art will find illuminating. We are granted a partial understanding of genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2014
and those who have it that makes them impossible to live with. They do not demand sacrifice; it does not occur to them that there is any choice in the matter. It is entertaining to read about it, but to imagine oneself as mother, wife, sister, lover of such a man is frighteneing. Mr. Greig communicates the terror without judgeing, praisng or condemning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2013
A fascinating account of a fascinating man. Notoriously reclusive, Geordie Greig has managed to capture the essence of this amazing artist's charisma and bring to life his individuality and obsession with his art. A remarkable man and a rare genius who lived life on his terms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2014
Another excellent book on Lucian Freud, this time a much more personal account of his life, friendships, personality and single-mindedness towards his Art and demand on his models. It was a gift which was very much appreciated and recommended to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2014
But he certainly seems an extremely unpleasant person. This was also a gift for a great fan of his work. I like some of his work, but not all of it. I shall certainly read the book if I can borrow it back.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 22 December 2013
Geordie Grieg is the editor of the Mail on Sunday and this book shows its tabloid roots. Grieg seems to relish Freud's darker side without having much understanding of his art. Towards the end of the book he writes, "In trying to understand the complexity that is Lucian Freud, it is necessary to stay focused on his art. The pictures tell us who he slept with and spent time with." To Grieg, Freud's paintings do seem to count largely as a record of his sexual conquests and he rarely has anything more profound to say about them than they make people look uglier than they were. If you want a gossipy book on Freud that concentrates more on his selfishness, bad behaviour and gambling, then you'll enjoy Breakfast with Lucian. If you're more concerned with his art and his approach to the portrait in the 20th century, then I'd recommend Man With a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford - to me, a much more rewarding book than this rather tabloid approach.
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on 3 December 2014
I read this book feeling perplexed. Clearly Mr Greig liked LF from the way he describes his interest in him and the time spent with him. But I challenge anyone to admire Freud after reading this book. The reason I gave it four stars is that Greig helps one to understand why people were magnetically attracted to LF. But one certainly leaves the experience, as with Isaacson's Steve Job's biography, asking whether one needs to be a horrid person to be really successful in one's own time. He was a great painter but the book describes him as a despicable man.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
A fascinating insight into a world of the eccentric artist. What a life, a completely unique person, not always likeable but this book is just compelling...
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