Lucian Freud. Kai. 1991–92. Sheet: 31 × 24 9/16″ (78.7 × 62.4 cm). Publisher: Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. Printer: Marc Balakjian at Studio Prints, London. Edition: 40. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York. © 2008 Lucian Freud

One of the foremost figurative artists working today, Lucian Freud (British, born Germany 1922) has redefined portraiture and the nude through his unblinking scrutiny of the human form. Although best known as a painter, etching has become integral to his practice. This exhibition will present the full scope of Freud’s achievements in etching, including some seventy-five examples ranging from rare, early experiments in the 1940s to the increasingly large and complex compositions created since his rediscovery of the medium in the early 1980s. In a dramatic and unusual cross-media installation, it will also include a selection of related paintings and drawings, illuminating the crucial, cross-pollinating relationship between Freud’s etchings and paintings. Freud is not a traditional printmaker. He treats the etching plate like a canvas, standing the copper upright on an easel. He typically depicts the same sitters in etching as in painting, always working directly from his models and demarcating their forms through meticulous networks of finely etched lines. But with their figures dramatically cropped or isolated against empty backgrounds, Freud’s etchings achieve a startling new sense of psychological tension and formal abstraction. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

706 250
Lucian Freud: The Painter's Etchings
Hardcover, 144 pages
Out of stock

Organized by Starr Figura, Assistant Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.

The exhibition is supported in part by Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to