English, born Germany, 1922–2011.
ABOUT THIS ARTWORK.
Lucian Freud subjected the human face and figure to uncompromising scrutiny for over fifty years.
The monumental Sunny Morning—Eight Legs confronts us with three models arranged on top of and under a sheet-draped bed in the artist’s London studio. With his head thrown back, his upper torso twisted, and his bent legs stretched awkwardly, the male nude is a study in tension and discomfort, in contrast to the easy tenderness with which he holds a sleeping dog. The legs that emerge from beneath the bed are the reverse of those of the reclining man; the inclusion of the lower pair, without a body, imparts a tone of perversion or even violence. Employing a mostly neutral palette, Freud used thick strokes of paint to create his forms, molding his subject’s flesh similar to the way a sculptor works with clay. The model’s exposed genitals and almost pleading expression; the downward angle of the floor, accentuated by the second pair of legs; the heavy, falling linen; and the dog’s delicate frame as it nestles against the man combine to present a disturbing image of vulnerability.