About the Art

Leigh Bowery by Lucian Freud

“I want paint to work as flesh... my portraits to be of the people, not like them. Not having a look of the sitter, being them ... As far as I am concerned the paint is the person. I want it to work for me just as flesh does.”

Watch a scene from Hidden Treasures


According to critic Robert Hughes, Freud’s “basic pigment for flesh is Cremnitz white, an inordinately heavy pigment which contains twice as much lead oxide as flake white and much less oil medium that other whites.”

Most of Freud’s paintings are in private collections. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he does not paint museum pictures. Freud’s work is sought after and kept at home.

This painting of Leigh Bowery was completed in 1990. Leigh Bowery (1961-1994) was born in Australia and emigrated to London in 1980 to study fashion design. He soon made a name for himself in the club and art scenes of London and New York as a transvestite performance artist, fetishist designer and leader of the band Minty and muse to Lucian Freud.

Photograph © Estate of Bruce Bernard

watch an interview with Lucian Freud