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Video transcript

we're in Tate Britain and we're looking at Lucian Freud's standing by the rags from 1988-89 it's a pretty big oil and like so many of his canvases it's a very very forthright nude yeah she's life-size and oddly positioned in that is expected to be lying down almost viewed from above you know in most needs a horizontal so the fact which is vertical is odd and and then we notice that she's actually standing and yet meaning it's very odd it is the space is really difficult to read in part because the rags give us no indication of space and actually obstruct the angle between the floor and the wall which would give us some kind of clue as to what's going on and so she is standing his weight on her feet but at the same time she's also leaning back right and then she's leaning on as she says in a taped interview she's leaning on a heater which is actually warming the rags apparently this was painted at night and I must have been exhausting for her but here's the thing about Freud I don't think any of that is important for him I don't think that there's a conscious interest in dismantling perspective or any of those kinds of goals I think that his concern was to reveal the experience of the body itself in the most direct and tangible way since we all share the experience of inhabiting a body his rendering really in the most unsparing way of weight of fat of bone of temperature of texture all of those things that experience is something that is so incredibly immediate and powerful you know what I see largely is paint I see a body but I'm also simultaneously seeing paint I mean this really thick almost tippling of it around her face and neck and chest especially a little bit on her thighs and calves and but really the face is almost broken apart by the paint think about the incredible tradition of painting the nude throughout the history of art this idealization this beauty and that handling of the paint is not only actually conveying the body but it's also sort of forcing us to rethink all those assumptions in pretty violent and aggressive way that's absolutely true yeah we sort of feel like I don't want to look at this we're gonna have a very immediate kind of visceral reaction to it there's no question in some ways there's a kind of actuality and realism to the body and in other ways the body is really quite distorted here her feet are too large her right arm is way too long and that foreshortening of her forearm and wrist is a little bit off there's a kind of distortion when I see those kinds of distortions in Lucian for its work I see in some ways an attempt to place the body in the most direct way almost in a more perceptually immediate way than sort of more classically proportioned figure might be so that he's trying to create the reality in a sense of that part that maybe even slightly dislocated from another so there's a kind of confrontation of the viewer I think that's I mean there's no question she's so close to us yeah and she's a reflection of who we are even though we're clothed we're upright we may enter into the view of the painting with a kind of properness in a museum context nevertheless it is a kind of revelation of the reality of our own bodies