Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Painter and Model: Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping Sells for $33.64 Million

Lucian Freud
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping
59" x 98.5"oil on canvas 1995

The London Evening Standard has a nice interview with Sue Tilley who posed for the painting -

In the article Sue Tilley explained the genesis of the painting:
"The first time the artist met her, in a Soho nightclub 20 years ago, he criticised her lipstick. "He said it had too many blue tones. The next time we met was over lunch at the River Café and I wore a different lipstick," she said.

She knew she was effectively being interviewed for the role of artist's muse and was briefed on how to behave by their mutual friend, performance artist Leigh Bowery.

"But I just did as I wanted as usual," said Ms Tilley, who grew up in Sussex Gardens and now lives in Mornington Crescent.

"Soon after, Leigh called me up and said, 'Lucian wants you to start work next week' and he made me practise stripping off on my settee at home before I went to Lucian's house in Holland Park. I like a bit of excitement but I was still mortified when I got there and he told me to take my clothes off. For the first picture I had to lie on the floorboards in a most uncomfortable position with Leigh and Nicola, the woman he married, and a dog.

"I was in agony and I thought about giving up. But we work hard in my family so I stuck it for the whole nine months. Leigh got rubbed out because he went to Scotland and Lucian needs you to be devoted. He won't work on the painting when you're not there." Ms Tilley, who has worked at the JobCentre in Denmark Street for 30 years and previously worked in nightclubs, modelled for Freud on her days off. "For the picture on the sofa I only had three days off in two years. Every weekend he expected me to be there and I couldn't go on holiday because I couldn't get a tan," she said.

"It was wonderful to spend time with such a fantastic person and see him working. Lucian has an opinion on everything and he was interested in my run-of-the-mill life."

The Guardian ran another interesting interview with Sue Tilley in 2005. Because Freud's painting, for which Tilley modeled, sold for such an extraordinary amount of money, a lot of garbage and misunderstanding is making the rounds in print and on the web. It is well worth the time to read up on this "ordinary" woman's extraordinary life as a model for Lucian Freud as well as a friend, ( not to mention confidante, and tillkeeper in the '80's at Taboo), of Leigh Bowery.

Sue Tilley in London

More at:

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping may fetch £17m - Lucien Freud

Freud's JobCentre muse

Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sells for record $33m

No comments: