In an epoch of overly idealized portraits of women, where the last half-inch of waist flesh is relentlessly photoshopped off, English painter (and grandson of Sigmund) Lucian Freud proposed the opposite: that our imperfections are, in themselves, grotesquely beautiful. His exaggerated realist compositions—of everyone from Leigh Bowery to Queen Elizabeth— illustrated a mellifluous humanity, some striking insight into our mortal virtue, while simultaneously revealing his subjects’ physical repugnance, even the most beautiful and puissant of them.
Lucian Freud, who died today at the age of 88, once said of old age: “I used to find death much scarier when I was younger. I had more to lose. Now, when I see old people driving slowly I want to shout at them. They should live a little more because it’s nearly over for them anyway.”