Lucian Freud spoke about painting, the art world and his life and loves to his confidante and frequent collaborator William Feaver on the phone most weeks for many years. Feaver wrote down their conversations immediately and typed up his hand-written account the next day, leaving him with hundreds of hours of transcribed conversations after Freud’s death. Having been renowned for thwarting any attempts by people to write his biography, at one-point Freud gave Feaver his blessing to be his biographer and hailed the project as ‘the first funny art book’.
Feaver’s two-volume biography has been much praised. Laura Freeman described it in The Times as ‘irresistible… Freud and Feaver seize you by the elbows, bundle you into a Bentley, haul you round the nightclubs, feed you oysters, Guinness and amphetamines and order you Russian tea and eggs the next morning. I didn’t know whether I’d been roughed up or ravished. As lives of artists go, this is up there with Michael Holroyd’s Augustus John and John Richardson’s Picasso … Feaver, an art critic of the Observer for 23 years, writes of the paintings of light, line, flesh and skin with brilliant insight’.
Craig Brown wrote of it in the Mail on Sunday: ‘Feaver is wonderfully adept at linking the life to the art …Charm is one of the most difficult qualities to catch in prose, but somehow Feaver manages to convey it in a biography that is as entertaining, and full of twists and turns, as a picaresque novel … It has amazing zip and gusto, and leaves you wanting more’.
William Feaver is a painter, curator and author, and was the art critic for the Observer for twenty-three years. He is on the Academic Board of the Royal Drawing School where he also tutors. He curated Lucian Freud’s 2002 retrospective at Tate Britain in 2002, and the 2012 exhibition of Freud’s drawings in London and New York. He has sat, weekly, for Frank Auerbach since 2003.
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