Lucian Freud in Paris



From 10 March – 19 July 2010, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is hosting an exhibition of Lucian FREUD’s work. The British artist has not been exhibited in France since the first retrospective at the same museum in 1987.

Today, Lucian Freud is an established artist. His retrospective at the Tate Britain in 2002 was a veritable springboard for his price index. The boost was immediate resulting in a price progression of +185% marking just the beginning of a formidable auction price ascension. In 2004, Lucian Freud became a de rigueur figure at prestigious sales and his auction revenue shot up by 450% in the year. In 2005, his price index climbed another 41%. Since then, demand for the work of Lucian Freud (who received the Order of the Companions of Honour in 1983 and the Order of Merit in 1993 and was associated with Francis BACON and Frank AUERBACH among others in what R.B. Kitaj called the ‘School of London’) has been extremely buoyant. In 2005, Freud’s prices were already approaching those of the market’s heavyweights and he made his first appearance in the ranking of the world’s Top 10 artists by auction revenue with a total of $28,5m,giving him third position.
With records falling like coconuts during this period of market euphoria, a full-length portrait of Bruce Bernard from the Elaine and Melvin Merians collection fetched £7m on 20 June 2007 at Christie’s.
After this summit, 2008 was the year of supreme recognition: on 13 May 2008 Christie’s, announced an exceptionally high estimate of between $25m and $35m for a work entitled Benefits Supervisor Sleeping. The Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich acquired the painting for $30m. This result gave Freud the historic title of ‘most expensive living artist’ ahead of Jeff KOONS.

In 2009, not a single work by Lucian Freud sold above the $1m line. In fact his 2009 auction performance of approximately $405,000 relegated him to 1,327th place in the ranking of artist’s by auction revenue. The reason: quite simply because none of the artist’s works were offered in 2009. Only prints and a few drawings were proposed. The auctioneers were unable to obtain any major works by Lucian Freud during 2009 notably because potential sellers were experiencing a serious confidence crisis. Quite understandably they feared selling their pieces at a loss and preferred to wait until the market returned to more clement conditions.
With the return of confidence in 2010, two of the artist’s works have already generated 7-figure results since the February sales: Self-Portrait With A Black Eye fetched £2.5m and Guy and Speck sold for £1.15m at Sotheby’s.