One of Lucian Freud’s most recognized portraits, Man in a Chair (1983-85), is an oil-on-canvas painting that depicts a red-haired man in a gray suit slouching on a hand-carved wooden chair. The man’s shoes are resting on the chair’s armrests, off-kilter and defying conventional posing. The portrait captures the tension between the man’s laid-back posture and his intense gaze.
Freud is known for his unconventional approach to portraiture, often choosing to depict people who are rarely given space elsewhere. This style is evident in Man in a Chair, where Freud challenges the norms of traditional portraits and poses, creating an intimate moment with his subject.
The portrait showcases Freud’s expressive neo-figurative style,a true testament to the artist’s indefatigable journey throughout his nearly seven-decade career. His self-portraits showcase this journey from focused linear depictions in his early works to triumphant naked portraits painted at the height of his artistic prowess.
Man in a Chair is part of Freud’s larger body of work that features figures seated or lying down, conveying intimacy and vulnerability through unconventional poses. Freud once explained that he was less interested in portraying traditional beauty or aesthetically pleasing images than he was in showing “the animal within.” And this honesty about humanity can be seen throughout his famous portrait oeuvres such as Man In A Chair.