Preview: Geordie Greig – Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 10/22/2013.

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Over the course of his thirty-year career, writer-editor Geordie Greig has interviewed some of the most high-profile living artists. But perhaps larger than any of those interviews – perhaps more revealing and hotly anticipated – comes his portrait of a portraitist Breakfast with Lucian.

Many have called the late German-born British artist Lucian Freud one of the Twentieth Century’s most original painters. Undeniably, his work is instantly recognizable: twisted with an unsettling pallor that seeps into his portraits of common folk, animals, still life and figures from both society’s underbelly and his personal life. And like his personal life, any “true” meaning behind his work is shrouded in mystery; it probes endless questions but provides none of the answers.

With an intensely acclaimed body of work and notoriously private life, Freud had become one of art journalists’ most sought-after, puzzled-over subjects. Now, thanks to Geordie Greig, viewers may finally get some concrete answers, or at least greater insight, into both Freud’s art and the person behind it, straight from Freud himself.

In addition to having conducted some of contemporary art’s biggest interviews, Greig had the rare pleasure of becoming one of Freud’s few close friends towards the end of the artist’s life. The two regularly shared breakfast, and it was from these early morning conversations that Greig drew much of the content in Breakfast with Lucian.

Greig provides a personable inside look at an unconventional, much speculated about life. Freud speaks to Greig with varying casualness, revealing personal foibles and interests (he was an avid gambler), thoughts on, of course, his art and that of others’ (amongst them Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velázquez) and something more universal: first love. Lending greater depth to this memoir of sorts are thoughts from friends, romantic partners and even some of Freud’s children, some who’ve never publicly spoken about their relationships with the painter.

Breakfast with Lucian is the book art biographers have been chasing (Freud had twice denied proposed biographies). Considering their fruitless efforts, what Greig sits on top of, on the cusp of unveiling to the world, is one of the art world’s most eagerly anticipated peeks over a spiked electric fence. Art aficionados: Breakfast with Lucian: The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain’s Great Modern Painter is not one to be missed.

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