I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The Kingdom of Bohemia

The Kingdom of Bohemia

Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney & The London Painters, by Martin Gayford, Thames & Hudson, £24.95, 352 pp, ISBN: 978-0500239773 When Lucian Freud spoke of London it was clear that the city retained a magnetic hold over the artist’s sensibility even to his final years. “I still feel this is the most exciting, exotic place in the world,” he affirmed in a late interview, “Whenever I find myself considering going somewhere else, I think it would be mad to go when there are still parts of London I haven’t explored.” Freud’s Jewish German and Austrian parents ‑ his father, Ernst, was the son of the famous psychoanalyst ‑ had been sufficiently alarmed by the success of the Nazi Party in 1933 to flee Berlin for London when he was just eight years old. The lengthening shadow of Nazism would, of course, soon follow them over mainland Europe and across the English Channel when the Luftwaffe launched their first air raids on Britain. Yet it was amidst the ruins of the blitzed capital where Freud first began to feel his way into art and fasten the umbilical connection with London that would underpin his career as a painter. In the besieged city of the 1940s Freud found himself in the company of an emergent bohemian milieu that would go on to determine the course of contemporary British art over the following three decades. The gritty allure of London’s central districts ‑ most famously the Soho area of the city’s West End ‑ drew together in close and vivid proximity a diverse a group of painters that included Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and Gillian Ayres. The intimate territory they staked across Soho’s ramshackle network of clubs, pubs, restaurants and apartment rooms emboldened and gave coherence to a range of radical art forms and practices. As Martin Gayford asserts in his compelling new study Modernist & Mavericks: “They shared a belief that with paint they could accomplish works that in other media ‑ photography, for example ‑ they could not. This was the common factor binding them all together: the confidence that this ancient medium could do fresh and marvellous things.” Modernists & Mavericks thrusts the reader onto the shelled streets and rubble mounds of London during the Blitz. When the first bombs fell on a bright September afternoon in 1940 they transformed the familiar contours of the city…

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