{the art of lucian freud...}

yes, the grandson of the father of psychoanalysis, sigmund freud. i just finished the most fascinating article on lucian freud in the february 2012 issue of vanity fair. (did you read it?) freud passed away last year at the age of 89, leaving a strong legacy behind. he is survived by 14 children by six women, most of whom were models for his paintings. most of his paintings were nudes, or rather "naked portraits" as freud preferred to call them. "for the last 57 years of his life, freud painted standing up rather than sitting down..." and a painting could take 6-18 months to complete. he worked seven days a week, sometimes around the clock, until the last days of his life. needless to say, his work ethic didn't please his children as they struggled for his attention and time. this need to connect and spend uninterrupted time with their father explains why many of freud's children ended up posing for him. (the entire article is definitely worth a read.)

this is what it takes to be great at something. you find your passion and put in the hours required to become a master. this idea reminds me of "the 10,000-hour rule" proposed by the author malcolm gladwell in his book outliers. gladwell states, "achievement is talent plus preparation..." and continues, "...researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours." have you read gladwell's book, outliers? it's a thought provoking read (as are his other books, tipping point and blink) explaining why some people are far more successful than others, and surprisingly it's not solely dependent on talent.

sadly, i don't think i've done anything in my life for a total of 10,000 hours except sleep. ok, perhaps reading. (i'll give myself some credit.) does anyone want to hire me? apparently, i'm an expert at reading. how long would it take a person to become an expert at something if they practiced, say, 8 hours a day, seven days a week? given this magic number, are you an expert at anything? or is there a talent you would devote the time to and like to master? plenty to think about...i better get to it.

source: images found via emrah yucel

11 Send Me Your Thoughts:

  1. I didn't know about Lucian Freud ... glad I read ur blog (haha), thanks for lettign me know of the otehr books too (I feel like you may be my clipnotes for books ... Iluv it) Haha. No surprise on the #, when we are passionate about something it ignites us to go go go go - sleep, eat, breath it .... which comes natural bec following our passion makes us happy!!

  2. The Freuds are quite an interesting bunch. Not only did Lucien have a troubled relationship with his spouses/children, he wasn't close to (nor on speaking terms with) his two brothers.

    What am I expert at? My husband says I'm a good mimic and I draw, both of which I've been doing since I was little! :D

    Would these 10,000 hours be per month/year/decade? How did researchers work this out, anyway? Probably took them 10,000 hours ...... ;D

  3. Ah, yes Lucian Freud... apt topic! Today, here in London, a huge retrospective opened at the National Portraits Gallery which will run until 27 May. I am very looking forward to it. He's been called the greatest living painter, yet opinions are split. Many people find his paintings too fleshy.

    A difficult character, like many great artists. The debate re: 10.000 hours achieves mastery is an interesting one. I sit on the fence here because I wonder whether you can be called a Master while still enjoying a more balanced lifestyle.

    I am a great fan of Malcolm Gladwell's work, having read all his books. He's definitely one of my favourite authors on social science.

    Personally I've never aspired to be an expert at anything. I enjoy the spice of variety and strive for excellence in anything I do, hence I'm rather very good at many things. That'll do me and allows for a fun, creative and interesting lifestyle.

  4. @ADA - Very true. When your passionate about something, I'm sure the 10,000 hours slip by quickly.

    @CHI - Until I read the article, I didn't know that much about the Freuds. All of that family drama!
    A mimic? I bet you are fun at parties.

    @TINA - The article did mention the retrospective of Freud's work that is set to take place in London. Hope you get to attend, and share on your blog (wink). I think the one coming to the States is in DC??
    Yes, I wonder if 10,000 hours would make you one-minded and single focused, rather than well rounded. Even so, I wouldn't mind being a master at something. ;)

  5. i'll hire you! i'm also an expert at reading. we'll be quiet and enjoy our books together. perhaps someone will pay us for it? i read "talent is overrated" which said the same thing about deliberate practice. you have to do the hard stuff over and over. interesting. i work on my teaching that way - not 10,000 hours, but always, "what worked, what didn't and how can i improve?"

  6. Very interesting post! Seven days a week? Sometimes around the clock?!? Freud's work ethic can be envious at times but at the end of the day I'd rather put my time in with the fam! I will have to check out those other books!

  7. We were definitely on the same wave length with out Vanity Fair inspired posts today! I did read that article and was so engrossed by it. I'd shamefully never heard of him before, though. His work and life were just so incredible. Did you read the part how one of his paintings sold for a record amount in the art world? That was staggering. I forget the amount though and am too lazy to go upstairs and get my copy of the mag.

    I don't think I'm an expert at anything. Unless you can be an expert at the internet? I'm really good at using the internet. That makes me sound like some sort of porn addict. Damn. What I MEAN is that I spend a LOT of time searching online and can generally track down anything I'm looking for thanks to my Lisbeth Salander skills.

    I'd love to be fluent in French. You?

  8. Didn't know much about him, so this was a great quick synopsis. I just bought the Vanity Fair, so I'll have to read that article. Interesting about all the kids and wives! Hmmmm.

  9. I am a big L. Freud fan and really think he is one of the most talented portrait artists of the 20th century. I just gave my husband the new VF for his bday so I'm excited to delve into that article! Thanks for sharing. I read Outliers a few years ago and that 10,000 hours rule really stuck with me too, especially when I think about my daughter. I also seem to remember a chapter about holding your kids back a year in school so they will be smarter, stronger and a better athlete than everyone else. Lots of food for thought!

  10. If all good things come in threes then we surely have one more "great minds" moment in our future :) I JUST two days ago had a discussion with someone about achievement and attaining success and I mentioned Outliers. I loved that book (and Gladwell's other books too) and ranted and raved about it because the person I was talking to had never heard of it. I hoe they will go out and pick up a copy :)

    Great post - those Freuds ... they are a unique bunch.


  11. Ooh how timely, we drove past the NPG on Sunday on the way home and saw a huge poster for the exhibition outside and I got very excited. I LOVE Lucien Freud, I think his paintings are extraordinary, I could stare at them for hours. I must admit I always get him confused with Ian McKellen as they look quite similar.

    Have you seen his portrait of Kate Moss?

    And having had two subsequent boyfriends who work in advertising, I am very familiar with Malcolm Gladwell. I love his stuff, but I've never read it, I just get told it ;o)

    PS how did you do your images like that, like real photos??? They look amazing!


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