For Lucian Freud’s Birthday, a Portrait by Zeng Fanzhi
Lucian Freud (December 8, 1922 - July 20, 2011) was well known for his skilled and penetrating portraits, but it’s this portrait of Freud by Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi that reveals so much about the iconic Anglo-German painter. Painted from a photograph of Freud holding his pet fox, the portrait was painted, Fanzhi says, “in order to pay my respects” to an artist he had long admired. In each of his canvasses, Fanzhi tries to instill emotional weight, and his first step in doing so is to choose the music he listens to while he paints. He listens to what he thinks the subject would have wanted to hear; in the case of Freud, Fanzhi played the score for Schindler’s List , composed by John Williams. This melding of the painter and sitter is reflected in the portrait; Fanzhi claims that it is “a picture within a picture,” a portrait of both Freud and Fanzhi himself.