Two Stories of Death: Goodbye Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse

Two Stories of Death: Goodbye Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse
26 July 2011

We mourn when someone close to us dies but we also mourn for people we hardly know. But in a way, both Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse have been more than our acquaintances. One a painter and another a musician, they have welcomed us into the abode of their souls and have allowed us to view the world as they saw it. We don't know them personally but they have touched our hearts.

We were mesmerized by the brutal honesty of Lucian Freud's figurative paintings and wondered how a faithful depiction of the "ugly-beautiful" could transform our perception of art. Once called the "Greatest Living Painter, Lucian Freud died of natural causes at the age of 88 in his home in London. That may seem like a ripe age to succumb to the dying of the night, but the painting had been stagnating lately and still very much needed a presence like his.

For fifty years, he created portraits of his friends, family and celebrities. He faithfully stuck with realist portraits just when almost all painters have abandoned the genre especially when it seemed like painting had already reached its denouement after the explosion of abstract expressionism. As a realist painter, he was very different from the masters of the past. His nude paintings didn't inspire exaltation because he was unfashionably intense and real, harsh and on-your-face intimate portrayals that at times too even painful to look at. I found myself head to head and eye to eye with this painting of a Boy Smoking at the Tate electrified by his gaze. A prolific painter, Lucian's art dealer said he painted until the end of his life.

A video on Lucian Freud's paintings

David Hockney discusses Lucian Freud

Amy Winehouse, on the other hand, was a singer whose tragic end at age of 27 had left a gaping hole in the industry. The music of Amy Winehouse, though overshadowed by her tabloid persona, had catapulted British music back into the limelight and revived the genre of girls with big voices. Her homage to the best retro singers of the past coupled with her confessional lyrics showed what a true original she was. Unlike the bebop music of the past, her songs were dark and gritty. Rehab for example showed how much of a rebel she was and how a tormented soul like hers could never be caged.

I am not sad that they have died because I know their art would live. I've written this piece just to say thank you to both of them for sharing their creativity with the world. Rest in peace Lucian and Amy.

Amy Winehouse. Photo by NPRP3
Amy Winehouse. Photo by NPRP3

Death of Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse in better times

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