The first biography of the epic life of one of the most important, enigmatic, and private artists of the 20th century is drawn from almost 40 years of conversations with the artist, letters, and papers.
This first volume of The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth, which takes Freud up to 46, reads like fiction. Freud is Just William, Casanova, Barry Lyndon, Tom Jones and Pinkie ... The pace of the telling is frantic, propulsive and twitchy. Freud and Feaver seize you by the elbows, bundle you into a Bentley, haul you round the nightclubs, feed you oysters, Guinness and amphetamines and order you Russian tea and eggs the next morning. I didn’t know whether I’d been roughed up or ravished. As lives of artists go, this is up there with Michael Holroyd’s Augustus John and John Richardson’s Picasso ... The humour is black and slapstick, punning and perverse. Feaver allows Freud’s quotes to run at length. We hear his voice in interview transcripts...and showing off on the back of postcards. His talk was a mix of barrow boy and GI ... How much to believe? Freud went in for his own legend. One suspects a spot of mythmaking ... Feaver...writes of the paintings — of light, line, flesh and skin — with brilliant insight ... as his crony and co-conspirator Francis Bacon said: 'You’re never bored with Lucian.'
... fiercely detailed ... A cast of thousands troops through these antic pages, filling out both the professional side of Freud’s life, a steady rise in renown for long stretches stubbornly unaccompanied by a commensurate rise in income, and the personal side, filled with women who were often simultaneously attracted and repulsed by the artist ... Nobody alive today is in a better position to write an enormous, definitive biography of this artist. Feaver talked with Freud ind-depth on a wide range of topics for decades, he’s infinitely knowledgeable about Freud’s life and associates, and, as his frequent digressions demonstrate, he’s a richly rewarding thinker on Freud’s art ... Because of Feaver’s intimate connection with Freud, the book is positively suffused with the artist’s voice, commenting wryly on everything, all the time. This makes for singularly absorbing reading regardless of what any reader might personally make of Freud’s art itself.
...[a] sparkling first volume ... Feaver knew Freud for many years before his death...and although the painter was averse to the idea of a biography, he nevertheless gave him his approval. Their conversations ranged widely and Feaver wrote them up immediately afterwards, resulting in an extraordinary tranche of anecdote and aperçu ... It is through innumerable...vivid details that Feaver’s wonderful biography comes close to Freud’s own definition of his art: 'A picture should be a recreation of an event rather than an illustration of an object.'