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The IMMA Collection: Freud Project presents a new research programme exploring The Artist's Studio
Installation view, IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016 – 2021, IMMA, Dublin. Photo Ros Kavanagh.

DUBLIN.- Very few artists spent as much time in the studio as Lucian Freud (1922–2011). The studio was his world. Now in its fourth year, the IMMA Collection: Freud Project is dedicating a six-month period to the investigation of the theme of the artist’s studio, exploring its role and function in the production of art. The Artist’s Studio presents the work of Lucian Freud with a new research and activation space in the Freud Centre.

The studio, in all its forms, exerts a fascination as the physical and conceptual site of an artist’s work. The IMMA Collection: Freud Project provides the framework for an investigation of the timeless subject of the relationship between the artist and their studio. The basement of the Freud Centre is a new site for research, functioning as a reading, screening and seminar room. This is the home for a public exploration of the role and function of the studio as the space of production. This project maps out and builds on existing ways of thinking about the studio, focusing on international contexts as well as the contemporary situation in Ireland.

Annie Fletcher, Director of IMMA said “the significance of The Artist’s Studio as a model of research and activation within the Museum, together with the IMMA Archive exhibition ‘From the Edge to Centre’, are dynamic templates for looking to the enormous potential of a future Collection and Learning Centre at IMMA.”

Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections at IMMA said “The Artist’s Studio stands for the creative process. With this programme of research and activation IMMA positions itself at a juncture where curatorial, art historical and educational research can converge. IMMA is uniquely poised, by fusing where art is made and art is displayed, to investigate at first hand the role and function of the studio in the relationships between art, politics and contemporary life.”

A series of core research questions inform and steer the various activities taking place. What are the uses of the studio? What are the limits of the studio? What are other possibilities for the studio? How do we value studio versus non-studio practices and how do we make space for alternatives within the Museum? Using Freud’s work, and his intense focus on the interiors of his studios as a prompt, this project explores and makes visible the alternative forms of research and learning that can take place in the environment of the Museum.

Highlights of the research programme includes a summer school in June; engagement with IMMA’s own Artists’ Residency Programme and the IMMA Archive including the history of the Residency; discussion on Freud’s studio and an investigation into the contemporary situation in Ireland today.

This research project is rooted in the IMMA Collection: Freud Project, which presents 29 paintings and 16 works on paper in this exhibition. Freud is widely recognised as one of the greatest realist painters of the twentieth century, renowned for his intimate, honest, often visceral portrayal of the human form. He changed the way we see portraiture and the nude in art. The works in this exhibition, mainly dating from 1970 onwards, explore several of the artist’s key themes such as portraiture, self-portraiture, still-life, animals and nature. They include portraits of his family, other artists, an art writer, his art dealer, business people and his doctor. The loans also reflect his friendships and contacts within the racing world, his love of horses and dogs, his interest in the physical and psychological relationships between human and animal sitters, his studio and garden.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011) was born in Berlin to Ernst, the architect son of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and his wife Lucie Brasch. In 1933, age ten, Freud fled with his family to England, ahead of the rise of Nazism. The family settled in London where Freud lived for the rest of his life.

Freud studied briefly at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London and later at Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham. His first solo exhibition, at the Lefevre Gallery received critical acclaim in 1944, followed by a number of hallucinatory, finely-painted portraits that marked him as an artist to watch. Freud’s adherence to realism and focus on the human figure, when abstraction and other progressive forms of practice were more prolific, moved him in and out of the spotlight until the 1980s when renewed international interest in painting and figuration gave his work a new significance. Since then Freud has become one of the best-known and most highly regarded British artists of the 20th century. He was awarded the Companion of Honour and the Order of Merit. Major retrospectives of his work were held in Tate Britain, 2002, IMMA 2007, MOMA, 2008 and the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2012. Further exhibitions are planned in London for 2022 to celebrate the centenary of Freud’s birth.

Freud visited Dublin and Connemara in Ireland in the late 1940s and returned regularly over the next decade. After his marriage to Caroline Blackwood of the Guinness family he was also a regular visitor at Luggala, Co Wicklow. During the late 1940s and early 1950s Freud connected with Irish artists such as Patrick Swift whose Dublin studio he used and Edward McGuire whose tutor he was at the Slade Art School, as well as the literary circle of Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Brendan Behan, Anthony Cronin and their Soho milieu. An in-depth account of Freud and Ireland will be explored through the Freud Project, including his close links with the other great figurative painter of the 20th century, Irish-born and London-based, Francis Bacon – his friend, mentor and great rival of thirty years, whose studio you can visit in Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.

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