why did Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sell for such a large price?

a critical look at Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud
a critical look at Benefits Supervisor Sleeping by Lucian Freud

So many people are asking – why? why this painting? I have heard (and read) people saying that it’s ugly, that they wouldn’t accept it for free, let alone pay the highest price yet paid for a living artist. so why did this painting fetch this price?

I could go into the fact that the actual piece is huge, that it took two years to paint, that it’s a work by a modern master who has dedicated his life to his painting. Or I could mention the market fluxes such as the fact that Lucien Freud is huge in the market at the moment, that his works have been seeing a surge in prices in the past few years – but what I really want to talk about is the feel of this work and why it is actually beautiful rather than ugly.

Some of you may remember back in the dimdarks when I waxed on at great length about beauty. I quoted my favorite Heinlein quote and I think in this case it applies. Freud painted here, a woman exactly how she is. he pointed out every flaw, every shred of humanity and forces us to acknowledge that – but to also see that that reality is what is beautiful, those flaws are what makes her a person and that as a person she is beautiful. he is saying look at this woman, she isn’t perfect, she has her flaws but she is a work of art – every person holds within them a work of art because we all have beauty. This piece, quite frankly, makes the world a more beautiful place.

…at least, that is what I see in it – what do you see?

3 thoughts on “why did Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sell for such a large price?

  1. Well, I’ll have to agree with you on this one, Jennie. Pretty much, anyway.

    That said, I personally find it disgusting that anyone can be so filthy rich that they can spend $33,000,000.00 on anything, let alone a picture. Yeah, investment. Right. But investment only because someday someone even richer will be willing to pay more for it so they can sell it for a profit. Art has nothing to do with it.

    And they tell us that 50 cents a day will feed a starving kid.

    Got that out of my system. Now, as to beauty and the eye of the beholder.

    Critics of this piece point out the obvious: the model is ugly as sin and the antithesis of the classic artistic ideal of the human body. Kind of hard to argue that, on the surface, and I would have agreed with that a number of years ago. But then a funny thing happened, I became a nudist. Yeah, one of those people. And I found myself surrounded by folks of all sizes and shapes. I got to know people with nothing to hide and learned to see the real person, not the package. And then, the package began to be not so offensive either. I started to see physical beauty in a different way. The package was part of the person and a beautiful person’s package was also beautiful in it’s own way.

    I know this is somewhat long-winded, and maybe I’m just struggling to express that which a lot of folks have known for a long time. I mean, a ‘beautiful’ body is great, but just not that important to me anymore. I’m certainly not ‘beautiful’ outside (Angie thinks I’m Adonis, bless her) but parts of me, inside, I hope are. If an artist can bring that out, that’s art. And it shows in “Supervisor’.

    So yeah Jennie, I agree with you, with reservations. To me, your art brings out more emotion and inspires a helluva lot more than ‘Supervisor’, but neither of you is worth $33 million dollars. Sorry.

    Just to put things into perspective, it would take over three thousand years of my income to pay for that painting. That’s sick.

    Love ya, Jen! – Steve

  2. I admit, if I had 33mill I wouldn’t spend it that way, I would rather set that kind of money up to support emerging artists or to add to museum collections rather than a private one. I fear that the people who spend this kind of money on artworks don’t even put them up, they just box them in a vault. I hope that isn’t the case here, art needs to be seen and shared and loved.

  3. Pingback: painting price

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