It's an amazing exhibit.
First things first. Just because the art movement is called realism doesn't mean it is real, baby. Portrait painting is an art, not a science, and Lucian Freud has a freaky way of representing the body that pushes people to uncomfortable places.
Personally, Freud reminds me of my own flaws. No cellulite cream can help my thighs in any reality. And his portraits of chubby women make me self-conscious.
Another thing about Freud? Nobody ever looks happy in his art. His paintings are alive and many of his subjects are full of sexuality; however, I wouldn't call anyone sexy. Everyone looks one step away from death. Go look at some of his paintings online and you might agree.
- Bodies are stretchy.
- The eyes, hands and limbs of his subjects are exaggerated in unflattering ways.
- Like a coroner examining the body on some bad crime show, you can make out the human musculoskeletal system right below the surface of the face.
- And there are skin rashes and blemishes everywhere -- especially on the fat men and women.
Even the dogs are full of gray and beige ennui.
Lucian Freud was a complicated guy — or so I've read — and his art shows it. The Modern has some of his best paintings on display. I highly recommend the exhibition even though it might freak you out.
PS — Get the exhibition book! Worth the extra $5!