Naked Fat Woman Sets World Record

Well, sort of. How cool is this? Lucian Freud’s portrait of a nude, sleeping Sue Tilley has just sold for $33.6 million dollars–a record high for work by a living artist.

And Sue Tilley? Is fat. Not merely Rubenesque, even, but pretty dang fat.

From CNN:

Tilley, 51, said she was initially embarrassed to pose naked for the artist, but they soon grew comfortable in the studio — so comfortable, in fact, that she confessed to falling asleep while posing.

“I didn’t mind if he noticed,” she said.

Rawk.

I’m less certain of how I feel about Freud’s description of the sittings, though.

With Tilley, Freud said he was “very aware of all kinds of spectacular things to do with her size, like amazing craters and things one’s never seen before,” according to the 2002 interview with the Tate. He added, “I have perhaps a predilection towards people of unusual or strange proportions, which I don’t want to over-indulge.”

“Amazing craters?” Really? And psst, it’s hardly something no one’s ever seen before; millions of fat women and their partners get a view like that every damned day. Still, I’ll grant that fat women do seem to be rare in the contemporary art world, and the most important thing is that the painting itself is clearly not mocking its subject. Well done, Freud. 

I hope all you Shapelings who see yourselves in Sue Tilley will walk around today feeling like 33.6 million bucks.

Posted in Fat

78 thoughts on “Naked Fat Woman Sets World Record

  1. I like the piece, but I hate the revelatory nature of Freud’s quotation–you mean fat women are worthy, interesting subjects of art? Really?

    Also, Tilley is fat, but she is not “of unusual or strange proportion.” And his words lead me to believe that he thinks painting more women shaped like Tilley will negatively affect his aesthetic and reputation.

  2. I hope this is the return of the zaftig beauty in art.
    That’s not unusual or strange tho. It’s cute that he had never seen a fat girl before. Too much time painting Kate Moss and blokes.
    But I say it was right fucking time.

  3. I wasn’t too impressed by the small image, but when I saw a larger image, the painting of Tilley’s flesh is just amazing. There’s a link to a large version here.

    I also liked that Freud painted (and talked about) texture rather than going with the more common image of a extremely smooth, very young, fat woman’s body.

  4. I dunno, the look of the portrait isn’t very appealing to me. I’m glad that he depicted an ‘average fat’ woman and hope we’ll see more bodyshapes, sizes, and diverse weight in art and popular culture.

    Most thin women are usually pictured in very flattering poses and composition. I wish this picture was stylized a bit more. It feels to me that she is ‘scrunched up’ rather than natural to emphasize her rolls. Nothing against showing rolls but prefer it to be done more harmoniously. Does that make sense?

    I feel very ambiguous about this picture especially with his comment. There are not that many positive depiction of average and fat people in pop culture and would like to see positive depiction of all of us when they show up once in a while.

    But I saw some of his other works and this seems to be similar and not uniquely dissonant.

  5. Hm, never really liked Freud – his style, his use of color, just not my cup of tea. As for feeling like 33.6 million bucks: someone once told me I was worth my weight in gold. With my weight and the gold price at the time, that amounted to about 1.5 *b*illion euros (which is about 2.3 billion dollars right now). Ha!

  6. FWIW, Lucian Freud’s portraits are rarely “flattering” in the most common sense. There was actually a huge kerfuffle over a portrait he painted of the Queen, which a lot of people said was offensively unflattering: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/1723071.stm And his portrait of Kate Moss is hardly a Chanel advert: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2002/08/31/baluc31.xml In light of his other work, I’m actually inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt when he says he loves to paint interesting shapes.

  7. He said “that ONE has never seen before”, as in that he hasn’t had the opportunity to look closely at a fat body, not that no-one has ever seen a fat body. And I guess in painting and exhibiting the work he’s trying to get other people who haven’t to see it too.

  8. I quite like the picture, but I think artists learn at art school how to talk about their work as if no one has ever had such an incredible concept in the entire world before now. One of my favorite artists, Jenny Saville, is sadly also guilty of this (but I’ll forgive her) when she does pieces featuring fat women, as she says “not many people look like X, and not many people get to see her”. All this about an overweigt woman. Aren’t we chubbies lucky that artists are here to discover us…!!!

  9. I’ve never known an artist that didn’t like to draw fat. “S curves” they call it. Oh, Esme, can you pose for me? I have to do a portrait for a class and I need someone with your S curves.

    I also do professional art modeling, and the terms they use to say what they mean (fat chicks are more fun to draw) are fascinating. The day I got hired at one of my gigs, my boss looked at me and said i’d be interesting to draw because I had “great volume”

  10. I cant work Lucien Freud out.

    I love that he’s a figurative painter making money in the cesspool that is the modern art world. I love that he can paint, and DAMN can he ever paint flesh well.

    Im not sure I like him or his work though. And I don’t know why.

    I hate what he’s done to her face, and to me its clearly on purpose. argh i dont know! I dont think he actively meant to make her look ugly or slovenly, i think he was just interested in how her flesh folded and formed shapes. Theres a print of Sue Tilley too (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00075/drawing_75451a.jpg) and her face is in the same kind of squashed position.

    I think he painted it because of her flesh and not to make her beautiful or even repulsive. Actually, that’s pretty damn refreshing. Its the rest of the world that’s judging the painting using beauty standards, not the painter.

    egads, you can tell I’m and art student, can’t you!

  11. I am feeling flip, irreverent and cranky these past few days, but —

    who else is slightly creeped out that he’s a Freud?

  12. i don’t think he made her ugly. i think he painted her asleep. i know my face gets all squished and weird-looking when i sleep on the couch.

    to be fair, my boyfriend gets to look at a sleeping fat woman every day of his life. this portrait of a fat woman sleeping is hardly-life altering, unless the rest of the world is shocked and amazed that fat people look like people, too, when they take their clothes off.

    incoherent babbling just when waking ftw!

  13. I saw the Freud exhibit at MoMA of his sketches and they were all repulsive, no matter who the subject was. Most of his models are friends or relatives and he clearly goes out of his way to make them look unattractive. His work is off putting because he certainly doesn’t seem to like any of these people.

    And yes, it’s a bit disturbing that a descendant of the father of psychology has issues.

  14. Well, the painting is beautiful, but the woman depicted is not. It’s not because of her size, although I do think it plays a role (in this particular case).

    Anyway, paintings are not good or bad, or beautiful or ugly, because of their subjects. Apples have been painted for god-knows-how-many times and sold for god-knows-how-many dollars, but it doesn’t make them worth more themselves. It’s a fallacy.

  15. Whoa, I am amazed at all the negativity. I love this piece; I think it’s breathtaking (in a good way). She DOES have some wild craters and shadows and gullies and crevices and lumps and bumps and many, many S-curves. These ARE unusual and strange proportions. That’s a fact. She’s fat. That’s a fact. The proportions are not unusual to ME — I see them every day.

    And I am delighted to be allowed to see their beauty in someone else, because that helps me see that perhaps there might actually be beauty in mine). But to most people, they are unusual.

    IMO, we’re hearing the artist’s comments through our own filters, hearing judgment where there isn’t any. He’s not a Hollywood tabloid writer. He’s a visual artist. I hear far more judgment in the comments here than in the artist’s remarks. He saw “spectacular” and “amazing.” Anything ugly, unattractive, and off-putting is in the eye of the beholder.

    A fat woman does have all sorts of surfaces that “one” doesn’t see in the myriad images of the female body we’re flooded with every single day.

    I love this painting. And I think the boob-holding is the awesomest part of all.

  16. Esme – I really like your comment, and I’m glad you have gotten so much appreciation from artists. I took a drawing class awhile back and my prof was really into super-skinny women. While our nude model was quite lovely, and fascinating to draw because of her visible bones, I would have loved to have had the experience of drawing S-curves.

    As for this painting, I’m just not sure yet. The face kind of bothers me.

  17. I like it too. I think it’s a good thing that she wasn’t in a “flattering” pose or made to look more beautiful, because that’s the whole point to me… not all women look like models, even plus sized models, but there is still beauty to be found in a natural looking fat woman.

  18. I am on board with Kate’sSisterJ. Freud isn’t painting stereotypically “pretty” pictures and I think that’s good. His work is challenging because of that – because we’re so used to women being presented as pretty. He hasn’t gone out of his way to make her ugly – he’s just focused on something other than aesthetics, which is texture.

    I do not hold my boob when I sleep but sometimes, I hold my belly.

  19. I’m not sure if you already know about this or not, but — you should look into Leonard Nimoy’s artwork. He did an entire, gorgeous, series of photographs of unapologetically fat and absolutely beautiful women. The pictures are just full of joy and fun, too. I apologize if you do already know about this, but I can’t remember where I first heard about it!

  20. in retrospect, i do like this painting. Its extremely interesting.

    Im just waiting for memememe wrath and her like-minded rabble to rear her pointy little head and go ‘but its GLORIFYING OBESITY!!1′ to the artist, the model, the painting and anyone who thought paying millions for it was a good idea. it keeps me amused.

  21. I love the painting, I think it’s from real life and very intriguing. I’ve always wanted to be painted, and to have a song written after me, none of which have happened yet!

  22. I think artists learn at art school how to talk about their work as if no one has ever had such an incredible concept in the entire world before now.

    Ha! Yeah, there’s that.

    And I’m surprised at the negativity, too. He painted what a sleeping woman actually looks like. It’s not sexualized, but it’s not intrinsically ugly, either. (It undoubtedly is to people who are grossed out by fat, but that’s their problem.) I wonder how much of the negative reaction stems from the fact that we’re so used to seeing naked women as sex objects–when one is presented just as a normal human being, with the nakedness being no big deal, we don’t know how to take it.

  23. I’m with J as well – 100%. I’m an illustrator, and god knows how often we make lines for the beauty of the line. Sometimes the lines don’t go exactly where we want them to go – they create happy accidents, but in the process distort the likeness of whomever or whatever we are drawing. Sometimes this offends the subject, but more often than not people understand that the purpose of being the subject of a piece of art is not universally to glorify the traditional beauty of the subject, but often to convey something more than that. Freud’s painting strikes me as one that explores beauty and aesthetics in a much more complex way than any Odalisque or whatnot ever did.

  24. sarawr: Yeah, Nimoy’s Full Body project has been discussed in the fatosphere before ^__^ He appeared on The Colbert Report a few months ago to talk about it, he was lovely.

    I’m actually finding the discussion here on this painting quite interesting. My initial reaction to the portrait was basically “Ew”, not because of Tilley’s size, but just because the entire work seems dingy and dark and unattractive, and I suppose it is because I really am used to seeing artwork that attempts to make the subject appear as appealing as possible. I feel kinda dumb about it actually :P I’m always bitching about the photo manipulations that go on today, and yet I never really noticed that you don’t see too many dimples and pudges in classic paintings either ><

  25. I’ve never been much of a fan of Freud’s work, but will say it is refreshing to see a nude that isn’t sexualized. It’s a picture of an ordinary sleeping woman, period.

    As for her looking scrunched, . . . there’s room on the settee for her to have stretched out more so she obviously drew herself up into that position while snoozing. She doesn’t look uncomfortable, just really, really sound asleep.

  26. The Leonard Nimoy photos that sarawr mentioned can be seen here . I think they are very interesting, but had a hard time thinking about them as only “representations of fat women” because the whole time I was looking at them, my brain was going “zomg, Mr Spock took these pictures!”… yeah, I’m a dork like that.

    Also, his this series of photos has been made into a book, so now the images are commodities for many people to buy, instead of one image to be put in a museum or special collection for reification. I’m not sure how I feel about that either way. that is to say, i find neither mode of circulation to be “preferred” or “proper” – it just makes me wonder how it changes how and what the images mean.

  27. I’d love to know what the person who bought it thinks. Was it someone appreciating the art, appreciating the curves, appreciating the reality, some immature jerk who said “dude, fat girl in a painting is so ironic”? I’m all about finding out more on the guy who painted it, but the person who was willing to part with 33 million for it? That’s the mind I want to get into.

  28. I’m all about finding out more on the guy who painted it, but the person who was willing to part with 33 million for it? That’s the mind I want to get into.

    I strongly suspect the reasoning was, “Freud’s work will increase in value.” Perhaps followed by appreciating the art. If you’re paying $33 million for ANYTHING, you’re regarding it as an investment.

  29. Do not read the comments on the Daily Mail, unless you’ve got Sanity Watchers Points left for the week!

    I think the picture is very texturally interesting, and I think the woman who posed for the picture is beautiful, both in the painting and in her photograph.

  30. I wonder what Sue Tilley gets as a cut of the $33MM? Nothing?

    The amazing craters in my ass will be hiring an agency so I can model for other artists. I’ll also hire a lawyer so that royalties from my ‘ass craters’ will generate future revenue.

  31. I like the whole idea, and the fact that it’s getting out there (and so much money!), but I naturally don’t care for his statement, and I don’t like the way he painted her “amazing craters” – he seemed to really exaggerate the rolliness with deep colors and the lighter shades of her skin are a strange color that looks kind of sickly to me. But I’m no art connoisseur. I do know that he seemed to flat-out say painting too many fat women would ruin his aesthetic sense or something.

  32. I wonder what Sue Tilley gets as a cut of the $33MM? Nothing?

    According to the subtitles on Sky News: £20 a day to start with, rising to £33 for some reason I didn’t get to read because my friend arrived. So, yeah. As close to nothing as makes no difference.

  33. I should clarify, £20/£33 a day for the time she spent modelling. Not just, like, in general.

  34. I – like a pillock – read the (highly predictable) comments after the Daily Mail piece. I really should stop doing that. It only makes me cranky.

    I’m partial to Freud, purely because he paints flesh amazingly well but he certainly doesn’t flatter his subjects and I can understand why his paintings might make people feel queasy and/or ambivalent. As brilliant as he is I don’t think I’d like to live with one of his nudes whereas I could live with one of Jenny Saville’s. The way they handle paint and render flesh tones is quite similar but I think Freud just likes painting flesh whereas Saville actually has something to say about women, self-hatred and body dysmorphia, and for that I love her.

  35. Google this guy. He’s a painter of odd-looking people. Skinny ones, fat ones, ones with bent noses, ones with bent spines, ones with very wideset eyes, ones with odd-looking dogs. He says he has a predilection for unusual people. A predilection is a GOOD thing. Not sure what he meant by not over-indulging that, but I certainly did not get that he didn’t want to paint too many fat women. I suspect he doesn’t want to be known only as “a painter of odd-looking people,” as I described him after looking at about 20 of his paintings.

    He’s not Norman Rockwell. He doesn’t paint lies. (I crack myself up.)

    Sue Tilley can certainly try to cash in on her 15 minutes and I hope she does profit from it. But all she did was snooze on a couch. She got paid as an artist’s model. There was no guarantee that it would go anywhere or make any money.

    I just don’t get where all the hating on the artist is coming from. Picasso didn’t flatter his subjects, either.

  36. I could live with this. It doesn’t look like all that much in the thumbnail, but in the somewhat larger version someone linked up there, it’s very appealing. It looks to me like the pose was initially a bog-standard odalisque — but then Tilley fell asleep, and the form was gently subverted, became as much a portrait of our folkloric notion of the nakedness of sleep as of its model.

  37. There’s also, this: “Three years ago she sold an etching of herself she was given by Freud, whom she has lost touch with, for £26,000.”

  38. This is a beautiful painting. I don’t know about you all, but most times when I look in the mirror naked, I love what I see — all 345 lbs of me. And it’s when I put on certain clothes that I think “ugh, I look horrible” because they are shapeless. This fat girl thinks she looks better naked :)

  39. Is it just me, or has this painting tripped the “internalized fatphobia wire” in some of us?

    I think the piece is quite stylized, and I find her proportions lush and fertile, somehow. To me, the painter doesn’t find her grotesque; he finds her substantive. She demands his attention and consideration as a real figure. I think this piece is loaded with emotional and abstract feelings about presence and vitality.

    But that’s just me.

  40. I admire the painting as a work of art, but it’s not quite to my taste. Not because of the subject matter, but the artist’s style just isn’t what makes my eyes dance.

    I didn’t see the artist’s comments as being insulting, but detached. The artists I’ve known have said similar things which they absolutely did not mean as a judgement on one’s worth or character, but simply as an evaluation of how the light played off of the subject matter.

  41. I remember why i thought i disliked Freud now – I saw a documentry a few years ago and in it, i think i remember seeing something about one of his wives. She used to paint too, until lucien told her she wasnt any good… it made me so angry that he squashed her artistic side like that. bastard.

    i may be wrong of course, cant find any evidence of it now.

  42. I finally looked at a large version of this picture, and all I could think of was “Jeez, I can’t stand the print on that sofa”. I think my art appreciation grade is EPIC FAIL. :lol:

  43. I don’t think it is repulsive or anything horrible, just wasn’t very appealing to me. Her pose, the sofa, the color, her squashed head. I felt physically uncomfortable looking at her sleeping on the sofa. I’ve fallen asleep like that before and have fallen off and then shocked into wakefulness by the fall. You could also get a neck crick with your head squashed like that without a pillow.

    I guess I’m more mainstream in my visual preferance. I actually do not have issues with Freud since this is his style but I disagree with him that she is ‘unusual or strange proportions’. She appears to be like many women I see in the streets or some people I knew. She looks normal to me.

  44. Freud’s not in my top 10 artist list, but he’s an amazing painter of flesh. I’m having trouble putting this well (and trained in art history too, a bad sign), but somehow his paintings show the structure, weight, and translucency of flesh while also being purely physical marks of paint on canvas. there’s this dualism, where you can slide back and forth from seeing the brushstrokes and the way the colors are mixing to seeing skin and the life beneath the skin.

    Some artists I feel take advantage of their subjects…Diane Arbus at the end of her life/career is a good example of this for me, but I think Freud is just interested in bringing out the individual qualities of each individual flesh he paints. He does not seem interested in “prettying up” his subjects, as several folks have remarked already.

    Jenny Saville has been mentioned already, and I want to name drop one more work depicting a fat chick: The Blue Room by Suzanne Valadon, 1923. Valadon was an interesting, mysterious figure during the early 20th century. She was a bastard in the literal sense, and became an artist’s model, working for Degas and later forming a friendship with him. From being a model she became an artist. I’ve always loved The Blue Room for the model’s bored insouciance and comfort in her own skin.

    OK, art appreciation lecture over.

  45. I wish someone would pay that much money for a picture of me! :P
    I think the painting is lovely; I don’t know that much about contemporary art, but I like this particular painting a lot.

  46. OK now that I’ve seen the picture of the queen, and Kate Moss that someone upthread linked to, I can honestly say that I just think he sucks. Everyone looks ugly in his pictures. (Except the couch.) Frankly, he was more flattering to Sue Tilley than he was to the others, too. So it’s just a case of I don’t like his work. At all.

    I’m no connoisseur, to be sure, but I know what looks ugly to me. {shrug}

  47. I think it’s like most other pieces of art – everyone has an opinion, and they’re rarely the same. I can certainly get behind the idea that it’s… gratifying? to see that a painter of some renown was fearless enough to paint a woman who looks like me (and a lot of us, apparently) and do it in a way that turns “traditional” nudes on their respective ears. The pose isn’t glamorous, the woman isn’t glamorous (at least here)… but that’s okay. At the same time, as others have mentioned, I’m not keen on his style. Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it, but also doesn’t mean I’d seek it out or care to have it hanging on my wall! :)

  48. So, it kinda sounds like art and attraction share some similarities? Pick one out, and some people dig it, and some people don’t. Hmm.

    There’s something about the palette that, for me, personally, just doesn’t satisfy me. It needs salt.

  49. I love Freud’s paintings. They excite me at a deeply visceral level, especially the nudes.

    In my opinion, art is not about making things look good, or pretty or flattering (though it certainly has the power to do that). It’s about the artist expressing feelings, perceptions, things s/he delights in or simply needs to express, or any number of things– the dark as well as the light.

    And some visual artists (musicians too, and dancers) are not very articulate about their art (though many are). I get the feeling that when they’re asked to say something about their art, some struggle to say *anything* coherent about what is primarily a soul/spirit/gut experience. And that’s ok; they’re not writers and poets.

  50. “Is it just me, or has this painting tripped the “internalized fatphobia wire” in some of us?”

    I think it’s possible, but that’s definitely not what happened for me. I didn’t want to say I thought it was ugly because it wasn’t because of her fat that I thought it was, and I knew it would sound like that. Then when I saw how ugly the other pictures he paints are, I realized it was just his style I don’t like. Nor his textures. At least, not for flesh. The couch looks kinda cool.

    Well I’m still glad it made a bundle and that something about fat that isn’t hateful is getting lots of exposure. Very good news. Though his comments bug me. I haven’t braved more than a couple comments. Not good for the digestion.

  51. I loved the painting and asked my husband if I look like that. I think he felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say. But I was truly curious, because it’s so rare to see naked fat women, and I have changed my shape so much during my life that I don’t really know what I look like (it’s like that “residual self image” they talk about in The Matrix – many times I don’t even see myself as fat). We fat women are almost never represented in art or the midia. Think about it: how many naked (or near nude) thin women have you seen in photographs and paintings? Many, since women are objectified all the time. But fat women? Even if we see ourselves everyday, it’s something very different from seeing another fat woman. It allows us to think of our own bodies, and not in a negative way at all, I believe.
    http://www.escrevalolaescreva.blogspot.com

  52. I’ve never liked Freud’s colors/brushwork. I like the model, though.

    sarawr mentioned Nimoy’s photography. Ariane Lopez-Huici is another photographer of nudes of all sizes, including large (some of her portfolio is probably NSFW–naked children and people having sex).

  53. Is it just me, or has this painting tripped the “internalized fatphobia wire” in some of us?

    Uhh, no. The subject matter doesn’t bother me, the composition and the style does. I’m no art critic nor an expert, it’s just my personal pref.

    Some old masters show fat women with folds of skin and heavy cellulite and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

  54. Hang on, it’s THAT Leonard Nimoy what took the pictures of naked fat women? I knew about the photos but didn’t think it could possibly be the same person. wow! Tee hee hee. That just makes my day!

  55. I read that the model sold a sketch that Freud did of her for quite a lot of money – $35,000 or so? Or, it’s in pounds, and I have no idea how that works out. So yes, she did benefit financially from her association with him.

    My question to those who wonder if negative responses to this painting reflect internalized fatphobia – does fat acceptance mean that you must find it aesthetically beautiful? I think that might lead to a fruitful conversation.

  56. Hmm, well looking at Freud’s painting of the Queen and Kate Moss, I’d say none are done with the intention of flattering the subject.

    Realism or idealism isn’t the intent here. I rather feel I am looking at exaggerations of shadows, crevices and skin tones.It is an artist’s liberty to enchance or detract from the subject. I think Freud has a tendency to enhance in areas we’re not used to. The Moss portrait is a perfect example of this. We’re used to enhanced images selling beauty. These are enhanced images selling contours or shadows to near deformity of the subject itself. Selling perhaps an image of beauty or an idea of beauty w/i the human form we’re not longer able to recognize.

    Or perhaps I’m just sipping too much of The Juice….

  57. Funny how long this took to make it to the internets. In Germany, this was all over the press 5 weeks ago. And it’s a pain in the ass. Obviously, wherever you turn there are trollish comments like the ones in the Daily Mail. But something else bothers me more: everywhere in mainstream media I read interpretations how this work painfully illustrates the shocking, the disgusting condition of modern society, brought upon us by our own sinful greed and gluttony, blah blah fucking blah.

    I’m not saying Lucien Freud is trying to send a political message. I’m sure he just likes to paint flesh and amazing craters.

    But the impact of this work is that, wherever I look, people are discussing how a belly that looks like mine is a symbol for everything that’s despicable and disgusting about human nature.

    And, face it, this wasn’t sold for $33.6 million because someone saw the potential for flesh and amazing craters to dramatically rise in value. True or false, I think this is widely being seen as a negative commentary on the state of our society. I’m not criticizing the art or the artist, but I still don’t think the publicity around its sale is something to rejoice about.

  58. A Sarah: That is exactly the reaction I had! I’ve had a huge crush on Leonard Nimoy my whole life (… what?), and when I found out about those photos I thought, “No way is this actor I love so much also THAT COOL.” But! He really is! He’s a lovely, intelligent man from what I’ve gathered via interviews and his work on the History channel; those photographs are really the icing on the cake. Plus, I sent him a letter when I discovered the Full Body Project and he sent me a very sweet, seemingly personalized and actually-written-by-him reply. He’s just all-around awesome.

    Uh, on topic: I like the idea of this painting and how much it sold for. I’m not sure I like the painting itself. Something about it seems unattractive to me — not that the model is fat, nor the idea that Freud tried to make Ms. Tilley look ugly, but something about it just isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me. I think it’s the color palette.

  59. Women have looked like Moss and/or Tilley since art has been depicting naked women. How this image is viewed and how it is commented upon is strictly a representation of how the viewer feels about the body being depicted.

    We’re probably never able to look at a piece of art objectively. Therefore, the majority of folks coming across this image on the net or in the media are looking a naked fat woman sleeping on a couch. Not everyone is going to appreciate the brush work, the pallet, the play of light and shadows on the subject. Most are taught to hate and fear what this woman represents. They’re not able to separate that baggage and appreciate this as a work of art.

  60. Agreed with all of the above. Art is not just the play of light and shadow, color and brush strokes, but is also the visceral response to it of the viewer. Judging by the intense reactions, both positve and negative, of those who view this work, I’d say this painting is playing the social role that all meaningful art should. Its fascinating how this painting is crystallizing our fear and loathing, as well as our appreciation of the female form.

  61. DAYum. My first, initial, before-thinking-cognitive-thoughts gut reaction when I saw that painting?

    “Wow. MagNIficent.”

  62. my life-drawing professor made a point of getting people of, not all sizes, but not just lean and muscular. the fashion-model type of body truly isn’t interesting when you’re talking about drawing it. you either need a LOT of muscle, or a good amount of fat to create the curves and shadows that make a body a good art-subject. the skinny girls are wonderful palettes for fashion designers because the clothes are the focus. for painting/drawing, a more average body is much more intriguing.

  63. I like the way he rendered the couch, and that’s what made me realize why I hate the painting.

    Behind the model’s head, the couch is lightest. But her hair is pitch-black – not a bit of light to it. Shiny, black hair like hers should have reflected something. What’s the significance of that? Why is her hair a scraggly, light-absorbing black mass on her head?

    He may paint flesh well, but I hate the color that he used on her. She looks like a corpse to me – no color to her skin that would show the presence of blood. And that’s why I hate the painting – she doesn’t look asleep, she looks dead. Considering how very carefully he rendered the couch, I am making some cynical inferences as to why he chose to remove all the life-giving color from his model’s skin tone.

  64. Buffy: “I think Freud has a tendency to enhance in areas we’re not used to. The Moss portrait is a perfect example of this. We’re used to enhanced images selling beauty. These are enhanced images selling contours or shadows to near deformity of the subject itself. ”

    I agree. Of course the painting isn’t flattering, but it’s not completely realistic either, and I think that’s what gets people. I don’t feel too strongly about it either way. I don’t think it’s beautiful, nor do I find it repulsive. I think it’s interesting. I have to admit, I do appreciate artists that paint with an intensity of style, it seems to express something so much more than an artwork that has some sugar coated idealized female subject. *That* I’ve had enough of!

  65. I applaud the subject matter, however I can’t see this as being a 36 million dollar painting. No offense to the artist, it is well done, but is it THAT well done? I don’t think so. As far as his reference to “craters,” I think that this can be taken out of context fairly easily by non artists. I’ m sure that this was not meant to be a comment on the aesthetics of the model, but more about the complexity of light and shadow that excites an artist.

  66. I have forgotten where I first saw this, but do you know the difference between art and pornography?

    About 20 pounds.

    I’ve been “art” for at least the last 25 years (currently at 325). So when I feel a little down over my looks, I go to the local art museum and look at all the other “art” women, most of whom look just like me! :)

  67. I love this picture! For everybody who complained that his works aren’t flattering, that’s NOT the purpose of art in the first place!!!

    That’s the purpose of commercial magazines, so that we’ll buy stuff we don’t need and think we should look a way that we cannot.

  68. Yummy! Reminds me of my ex, except she had reddish brown hair. Thanks for the article – I hope more artists will do paintings like this.

  69. Re-emphasizing for people who don’t know this artist: ALMOST ALL of his paintings of human subjects are unflattering and make those subjects look blotchy and sort of corpse-ish. :) This one is a relatively flattering painting, for him…..

  70. I don’t think he was trying to make her look pretty. Nor was he going for ugly either. He goes for a more grotesque look, which is not to say ugly but strange in certain ways. The way he works with the shadows and the aspects of the body he chooses to accentuate, even being a fat body, are not those considered most attractive by our culture. While he uses soft lines, he does not look to emphasize the softness and delicacy of the female body in a traditional femenine way. This interpretation of a thin woman also shows all the above elements http://www.artinthepicture.com/artists/Lucian_Freud/naked.jpg . The first reaction she triggers is not one of great beauty, nor one of proper disgust, but the bizarre mix of the too that grotesque art sometimes generates. I personally love that feeling, it starts down in your gut and somehow expands itself all through your body the more you look at the painting and the more details you notice. it’s a lot like what life feels like at times.

    I hope I made some sense here, I often get tongue tied trying to get my point across. Just my two cents on this artist.

  71. Had to chime in here. I saw a huge Freud exhibit with an old flame who was a very technical painter,even though he had an abstract bent. I could see what he respected about Freud, but also couldn’t imagine owning one and looking at it all day, either. Not coincidentally, this was the one person I’ve ever dated who seemed to have any issues with my size. ..not enough to kick me outta bed for eating crackers, though. And the link to the model seems to reinforce this view.

    Years later, this discussion makes me think that part of what I didn’t find worthy of ‘owning’ these images was…. All technique and no joy. Not that they were ugly or depressing, but that they were more technical than emotional.
    And now I am married to a painter who regularly depicts realistic fat nudes in appealing active contexts. Of course, no one wants to BUY these, as they seem to make the average public really squeamish. People near to us like them, but frankly, they aren’t really commercial.

    So yeah-then I guess it IS good that a painting of a fat nudes is selling for big bucks. If we can get across that barrier with a big name based on awe of technique, maybe there is hope for a no-name with awe of the female figure. Huh. Maybe I do like it after all.

  72. I think it’s insane for someone to pay that much for a painting. If I had those resources at my disposal, I’d start a no-kill animal shelter.

    But this person Bought A Painting. Whee.

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