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How to do nothing

Lucian Freud's real genius was not for portraiture, but indolence

By Sebastian Smee   July 2002

‘Girl with a white dog’ by Lucian Freud

There are people who cannot bring themselves to look at the paintings of Lucian Freud. His show at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1993 was accompanied by warnings about explicit content at the entrance, which is extraordinary considering the standard fare of 1990s art. Possibly it was the penises on show or the sight of Freud’s naked daughters so minutely scrutinised. But the discomfort is still in evidence at his new show at Tate Britain. It is perhaps best explained when he is understood not as a portrait painter-with all…

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