The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth 1922-1968
(BLOOMSBURY, 704 PP, £35)
Tablet bookshop price £31.50 • Tel 020 7799 4064
What a hotchpotch, patchwork, gallimaufry concatenation of a book this is. Based on decades of talking to the artist Lucian Freud (1922-2011), it is the first of two volumes, taking Freud up to the age of 46. It covers two failed marriages, endless liaisons, many children (only two legitimate), lots of fast cars, reckless uninsured driving, gambling and huge debts. And all the while Freud is heading towards being one of the most acclaimed of artists, one who takes life in human form, the portrait, as his overriding obsession.
The art critic William Feaver was Freud’s confidant and collaborator, and his is a fascinatingly hybrid form of biography based on direct transcription and quotation from conversations between subject and author over nearly four decades, and on scores of interviews with acquaintances, friends, lovers and children. All these are interleaved with comments from published accounts, statements, catalogues, reviews and so on.