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Berlin to Bridlington:
Lucian Freud and David Hockney

Report of the lecture given by John Iddon
on February 26th 2014

This month John Iddon, who lectures at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, gave us a very interesting and entertaining talk on two popular British artists: David Hockney and Lucian Freud who both had "sell-out" exhibitions in London last year.

They were very different characters from different backgrounds and with completely different styles of painting.  Freud, grandson of Sigmund, was born in 1922 and spent his childhood in Hitler’s Germany before escaping to London with his family and becoming a British citizen in 1939.  Some of his earlier paintings were very disturbing as a result.  In the 1950s he decided to change his style to that which we are familiar with, using large brushes and thick impasto paint.  He painted mainly portraits and figures, making his models sit for hours on end.  John tells a tale about how Freud and Hockney painted each other’s portraits.  Hockney had to sit for 130 hours whereas he painted Freud in 3!

David Hockney had a traditional Yorkshire upbringing, moving to London in the 60s and becoming involved in Pop Art.  He painted a wide range of subjects in bright colours.  After a few years he settled in California where he painted his pictures of swimming pools, e.g. ‘Splash!’  He remained there until the 1990s when he returned to England and concentrated on the English landscape, now painting in acrylics.  We were shown a slide of his famous painting "Mr & Mrs Ossie Clark and Percy", his very good friends.  Hockney didn't lack friends as he was fun to be with.  He never married, having disclosed in California that he was homosexual.

Now, how different was Freud!  He had two wives and fathered 14 children that were ackowledged!  It seems that he led a double life.  On the one hand he mixed with the aristocracy because of his portrait commissions, and even painted the Queen.  On the dark side he was acquainted with the Kray brothers and their like, would pick a fight, liked alcohol and got heavily into debt because of his gambling.  (John Iddon knew it all!)

As I said at the beginning, a very entertaining talk.
But who is the most talented artist?  That is a tricky question …

Maureen Hellyer

Related Links (open in new windows):

David Hockney's website
Lucian Freud (Wikipedia article)

Our guest lecturer John Iddon (on left) in conversation with one of our members