British artist Damien Hirst has turned down an offer to become a Royal Academician at the Royal Academy in London, an institution that was founded in 1768 by King George III. The refusal was revealed by Secretary and Chief Executive Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, who told the Evening Standard that he does not know the reasons of this decision. According to Saumarez Smith, there are artists who have accepted the invitation and others that have not, some of these are: Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin and Paula Rego. Other contemporary artists, such as Tracey Emin, who made her dirty bed an artistic installation, have accepted to become a Royal Academician.
Some artists who were formed in the 50s and 60s believed that the Royal Academy had become obsolete, but that has changed and the newer generations have supported the Academy.
Membership of the Royal Academy is made up of up to 80 practising artists, each elected by ballot of the General Assembly of the Royal Academy, and known individually as Royal Academicians (R.A.). The Royal Academy is governed by these Royal Academicians.
All RAs are entitled to exhibit up to six works in the annual Summer Exhibition. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work in small exhibitions held in the Friends’ Room and are occasionally invited to hold major exhibitions in the Sackler Galleries. Many Academicians are involved in teaching in the Schools and giving lectures as part of the Royal Academy Education Programme.
Damien Hirst, the highest paid living artist and most provocative of the YBAs, is becoming a free agent. The art world’s answer to Reggie Jackson says he will sell his latest body of work at auction, circumventing de rigueur gallery sales. “The world is changing,” said Hirst, and as always, he’s ahead of the curve.
Hirst is a rare breed–both artist and salesman. This isn’t the first time he’s stunned the art world with his business savvy (and his dead animals). Back in November of 2003, the artist bought back 12 of his seminal pieces from benefactor Charles Saatchi for $15 million. By owning his key early work, Hirst sought to control his own market, deciding which pieces to hold on to or place in museums or collections. Were these works to be sold en masse, as Saatchi is known to do, the value of his works could have taken a substantial hit. This past February, Hirst also opened a store on High Street called Other Criteria, designed to “democratize” art–or at least commoditize it.
Christie’s announces that they will offer one of only two oil portraits of Francis Bacon (1909-1992) ever painted by Lucian Freud (b. 1922) at the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 19 October 2008 in London. The last known remaining oil portrait (the other was stolen from an exhibition in Berlin in 1988), the rarely-seen painting offers a tangible and intimate glimpse into the inspirational friendship of two of the greatest British artists of the 20th century.
It will be exhibited to the public for the first time in London from 15 to 19 October at Christie’s South Kensington, and is expected to realize £5 million to £7 million. At Christie’s New York in May 2008, Lucian Freud’s Benefit Supervisor Sleeping sold for $33 million / £17.3 million, a world record price for a work by a living artist sold at auction.
Pilar Ordovas, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s London: “Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon are widely considered to be the most important British artists of the 20th century, and the international appreciation for their work has grown significantly over the last few years. We are thrilled to present to the international art market a rarely seen, intimate portrait which pays tribute to an inspirational friendship, and a key moment in the development of Freud’s career. This incredibly rare painting is one of the highlights of a week in which the international art world will turn their attention to London, and in which we will offer an exciting selection of Post-War and Contemporary art at Christie’s.”
Lucian Freud first met Francis Bacon in 1945 having been introduced by Graham Sutherland, a mutual friend and contemporary artist, who invited the pair to his house for the weekend. The pair formed a close friendship and saw much of each other during the following years. Although their friendship was built on a mutual respect, Bacon had a great influence on the younger Freud and is often credited with liberating his style and fuelling his desire to depict human life. In the early 1950s, the artists compounded their friendship by sitting for each other; Bacon’s first portrait of Freud was painted in 1951, and many other examples were to follow.
In contrast to his quite frequent appearances in Bacon’s portraits, Freud painted Bacon only twice; first in 1952 and again in 1956-57, which is the portrait to be offered at Christie’s in October. The earlier portrait was lent from the collection of the Tate to a Retrospective on the artist at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1988 where it was stolen. In 2001, in preparation for the artist’s great Retrospective at Tate Britain, and echoing the great respect he held for Bacon, Freud designed a wanted poster which was placed around Berlin in the hope that the painting would be recovered in time for the exhibition. Its whereabouts remain unknown, and Freud has never allowed the image to be reproduced in color.
The present work was painted in 1956-57 and, as with the earlier portrait of 1952, shows Bacon with a downward gaze. Bacon sat knee-to-knee with Freud while he worked on the portraits, and during the three months of sittings for the first work, he is said to have ‘grumbled but sat consistently’. The present work is unfinished, offering a fascinating snapshot into the working methods of the artist at a critical point of his artistic development; Freud had begun to work in a more expansive way using thicker brushstrokes, liberating the paint and creating a more worked complexion, more seasoned and full of life. It is thought that Bacon left suddenly, most likely in order to pursue his lover Peter Lacy in Tangiers.
The portrait was acquired by the present owner from a London gallery in 1972 and has remained in their possession ever since. It has rarely been seen in public, having made rare appearances at Wolfsburg and Tolouse in 2002-03, and in Venice in 2005.
Christie’s will present a series of exhibitions and auctions dedicated to Post-War and Contemporary art and 20th century Italian art from 15 to 21 October 2008, during a week when the international art world will gather in London for a showcase of contemporary art exhibitions and events including The Frieze Art Fair.
The most important work by Lucian Freud (b. 1922) to appear at auction is among the leading highlights of Christie’s New York Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 13 May 2008. The life-size Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, depicts a naked Sue Tilley, a benefits supervisor from London, and is estimated between $25 million and $35 million. Appearing at auction for the first time, the work is offered from a private European collection and its estimate reflects that it may establish a new world auction record for any work by a living artist sold at auction. The masterpiece will be on public view for the first time in London at a special exhibition on 11, 14 and 15 April 2008 at Christie’s King Street.
Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings, on view at MoMA highlights the artist’s exceptional achievements in the medium of etching and explores the crucial relationship between these works on paper and his works on canvas. In a career spanning more than six decades, Freud (British, b. Germany, 1922), has redefined portraiture and the nude through his frank scrutiny of the human form. Although best known as a painter, Freud has made etching a constant part of his artistic practice since 1982.