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Exhibitions Collection Search the IMMA Collection Engagement and Learning IMMA Residency Programme National Programme IMMA Collection: Freud Project, 2016 – 2021
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IMMA Collection: Freud Project, 2016 – 2021

A visitor views works by Lucian Freud in IMMA Collection: Freud Project, The Ethics of Scrutiny, curated by Daphne Wright. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan.

In 2016 IMMA secured a significant five-year loan of 50 works by one of the greatest realist painters of the 20th century, Lucian Freud (1922-2011). Renowned for his portrayal of the human form, Freud is best known for his intimate, honest, often visceral portraits. Working only from life Freud’s studio was intensely private and he mainly worked with those he was close to, often asking subjects to sit for hundreds of hours over multiple sittings to better capture the essence of their personality.
The works, on loan from private collections, are presented in a dedicated Freud Centre in IMMA’s Garden Galleries for five years, with the support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. With this extraordinary resource IMMA is creating a centre for Freud research with a programme of special exhibitions, education partnerships, symposia and research that will maximise this important opportunity for schools, third level students, artists and audiences all over Ireland and beyond.

During this unique five-year project IMMA will present a series of different and exclusive Lucian Freud related exhibitions, with a new programme of events and openings each year. All 50 works were on display across this first year. Subsequent exhibitions will include works and new commissions by other modern and contemporary artists in response to Freud, and will reveal exciting new perspectives on this major artist today.


List of exclusive Lucian Freud related exhibitions are:


IMMA Collection: Freud Project
21 October 2016 – 7 January 2018
IMMA Collection: Freud Project features a selection of 30 of the artist’s finest paintings, and 20 works on paper. The works, mainly dating from 1970 onwards, explore several of the artist’s key themes such as Portraiture; Self Portraiture; Still-life; Animals and Nature; works that reflect his interest in the people and the natural world.

IMMA Collection: Freud Project, The Ethics of Scrutiny , curated by Daphne Wright
15 February - 2 September 2018

The Ethics of Scrutiny takes aspects of Freud’s intimate studio practice as a starting point to explore themes of vulnerability, longing and loss that permeate the painter’s work, while also looking to the works of other artists who address on a wider scale the complexities of representation. Two new paintings by Lucian Freud are exhibited at IMMA for the first time, alongside work by other artists including Emily Dickinson, Sigmund Freud, Marlene Dumas and John Berger.


4 October 2018 –  5 May 2019

As the title suggests, the exhibition is concerned with a human gaze; of the artist, the sitter or the viewer of the work. Gaze examines the relationships between the artist and sitter as well as the representation of the nude in art and the oftentimes visceral portrayal of the body. In so doing, the exhibition prompts questions about how we as viewers experience and analyse the associated gaze. You are encouraged to journey from room to room, allowing a space for reflection, but always considering who is gazing at whom. At times you are sharing the viewpoint of the sitter, at times the artist, but you are involved in a constant exchange of perspective between the viewer, artist and sitter.

Showing alongside works by Lucian Freud the exhibition includes work by Marina Abramović, Stephan Balkenhol, Phil Collins, John Coplans, Dorothy Cross, Pauline Cummins, Albrecht Dürer, Ann Hamilton, Edward Hopper, Rebecca Horn, Annie Leibovitz, , Mark Manders, Edward McGuire, Danny Osborne, Rembrandt van Rijn, Thomas Ruff and Hannah Starkey.

Life above Everything - Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats
2019 – 2020

This exhibition will bring together the work of two acknowledged masters, Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats, as part of IMMA Collection: Freud Project. Both artists were tied by name to particular traditions – psychoanalysis in Freud’s case, and Celtic Revivalism for Yeats. Life above Everything will mark and investigate less well-known relationships between these two artists. The selection for this exhibition is assisted by David Dawson, Lucian Freud’s long-time studio assistant, who brings to the project a unique, intimate knowledge of Freud’s interest in Yeats.

About Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud was born in Berlin to Ernst, the architect son of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and his wife Lucie Brasch. In 1933, age ten, Freud fled with his family to England, ahead of the rise of Nazism. The family settled in London where Freud lived for the rest of his life.

Freud studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London and Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham. His first solo exhibition, at the Lefevre Gallery received critical acclaim in 1944, followed by a number of hallucinatory, finely-painted portraits that marked him as an artist to watch. Freud’s adherence to realism and focus on the human figure, when abstraction and other progressive forms of practice were more prolific, moved him in and out of the spotlight until the 1980’s when renewed international interest in painting and figuration gave his work a new significance. Since then Freud has become one of the best-known and most highly-regarded British artists of the 20th century. He was awarded the Companion of Honour and the Order of Merit. Major retrospectives of his work were held in Tate Britain, 2002, IMMA 2007, MOMA, 2008 and the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2012.

Freud visited Dublin and Connemara in Ireland in the late 1940s,partly on a pilgrimage to Jack B.Yeats whom he considered the greatest living painter and later when married to Caroline Blackwood of the Guinness family. From the 1950s he connected with Irish artists such as Patrick Swift whose Dublin studio he used and Edward McGuire whose tutor he was at the Slade Art School, as well as the literary circle of Patrick Kavanagh, John Montague, Brendan Behan, Anthony Cronin and their Soho milieu. An in depth account of Freud and Ireland will be explored through the Freud Project, including his close links with the other great figurative painter of the 20th century, Irish-born and London-based, Francis Bacon – his friend, mentor and great rival of thirty years and whose studio you can visit in (External) Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane .

Associated Events

A series of Freud Project related talks and events will take place throughout the project. Please check each exhibition page or the Talks & Events section on the website for most up to date listings.

An (External) IMMA Collection: Freud Project playlist of previous talks is available on IMMA’s Soundcloud Channel. The playlist includes 9 talks which are:

- (External) IMMA Collection Freud Project: In Conversation/ Sarah Howgate & David Dawson
- (External) Artists Talk / Ellen Altfest on the work of Lucian Freud
- (External) IMMA & TCD : Lucian Freud Lecture Series / Christina Kennedy
- (External) IMMA & TCD : Lucian Freud Lecture Series / Yvonne Scott
- (External) IMMA & TCD : Lucian Freud Lecture Series / Martin Gayford
- (External) IMMA & TCD: Lucian Freud Lecture Series/ Dr Noreen Giffney
- (External) IMMA & TCD: Lucian Freud Lecture Series/ Nathan O Donnell
- (External) IMMA & TCD - Lucian Freud Lecture Series / Isabelle Graw
- (External) IMMA & TCD - Lucian Freud Lecture Series / Daphne Wright & Angela Griffith
- (External) Talk by Arthur Seefahrt, Emily Dickinson’s Poetry & Ecology of the Gallery
- (External) Keynote Lecture by Kate Brindley / The Work of Daphne Wright

Lucian Freud Lecture Series
18 October 2017 – 14 April 2018

IMMA presented a Lucian Freud Lecture Series in collaboration with The Irish Art Research Centre, Trinity College, Dublin (TRIARC). IMMA and TRIARC invited leading artists, critics and cultural researchers to offer new perspectives on Freud's work from October 2017 to April 2018, concluding with a major symposium in April 2018.
The international symposium on Lucian Freud entitled Rethinking Freud & The Contemporary was the season highlight and final event in the collaborative series of events exploring the work of Lucian Freud. Speakers explored contemporary perspectives on the role of painting in art today; the anthropological, psychological and ethnographic content that Freud’s work elicits and, revisited post-war art contexts and Freud’s lesser known relationship to Ireland, that included a creative network of other artists and writers. Speakers included: Catherine Lampert / Elena Crippa / Christina Kennedy / Nick Miller / Angela Griffith / Nathan O’ Donnell / Trisha Brennan / Laura Fitzgerald / Richard John Jones / Sue Rainsford / John Lalor.

IMMA Residency: Freud Project

A key element of the Freud Project is an engagement with contemporary artists and art practitioners in response to Freud, revealing exciting new perspectives on this major artist today. In March 2017 IMMA invited interested candidates to propose contexts and research within their own practice which would explore, contest, expand, complement or radicalise the resonance and impact of the work on show in the Freud Centre. Through this opportunity IMMA wishes to support the development of studio practice and artistic production to open new possibilities around the work, and to explore with residents new ways of working with IMMA’s many audiences.

The Freud Project Residency | Laura Fitzgerald
1 September – 31 December 2017
The Freud Project Residency | Bridget O’Gorman & Sue Rainsford
1 October 2017 – 28 February 2018
The Freud Project Residency | Richard John Jones
1 January – 31 March 2018

Residency Exhibition - Lucian's Neighbours
Laura Fitzgerald, Richard John Jones, and Bridget O’Gorman & Sue Rainsford
24 June - 19 August 2018
The Project Spaces, The Freud Project Residency Programme
This exhibition presents a new series of works and research developed in response to the IMMA Collection: Freud Project. In 2017 Laura Fitzgerald, Richard John Jones, Bridget O’Gorman & Sue Rainsford were selected from the IMMA Residency Programme Open Call to live and work onsite responding to Freud at IMMA. Like any symbiotic relationship the resulting artworks produced by this creative community are complex, encompassing multiple viewpoints and modes of expression, living with, influenced by and occasionally opposed to their famous neighbour. By presenting the contemporary voices of these responding residents Lucian’s Neighbours probes the relevance of Freud to current social and cultural discussions, and in so doing captures what can be revealed through the practice of one artist observing another.

Freud Research Fellowship

Dr Nathan O'Donnell is the Irish Research Council Enterprise Postdoctoral Fellow, Freud Project -  a two-year programme of research in relation to the IMMA Collection: Freud Project that will explore Lucian Freud’s relationship to Ireland, examining his relationships with Irish artists and writers, the time he spent in Ireland in the 1940s and 50s, and his later interactions with Irish emigrants in London. This fellowship will include a number of public interactions, in the form of symposia, reading groups, talks, and a conference on Freud’s work in late 2019. The research will be published in various formats across the two-year period, and will feed into the broader curatorial programme of the IMMA Collection: Freud Project .

The Freud Research Fellowship is mentored at IMMA by Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collections.

Supported by the Irish Research Council, through the Enterprise Partner Scheme (EPS) awards programme. The fellowship is based between IMMA and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College Dublin.

select this link for further details under Projects and Research.


(External) Wright’s curatorial configurations of Freud and the poems by Emily Dickinson by Arthur Seefahrt, poet, writer and a member of IMMA's Visitor Engagement Team, August 2018.

(External) Slow Looking & Porous Links in The Ethics of Scrutiny , Daphne Wright in conversation with writer and researcher Sue Rainsford, August 2018.

(External) Homecoming: Frank Bowling and Lucian Freud by Dr Nathan O’Donnell on the relationship between Lucian Freud and Frank Bowling. June 2018.

(External) Paint Skin? by Irish Artist Susan Connolly, in response to the work of Lucian Freud, December 2017.

(External) The Relationship between Artist and Model by renowned American painter Ellen Altfest, August 2017.

(External) Behind the Blink go behind the scenes with the IMMA Collection: Freud Project Advertising Campaign, March 2017.

IMMA Collection: Freud Project Catalogue

An IMMA Collection: Freud Project catalogue which includes illustrations of all 50 Lucian Freud works is available to purchase. The catalogue features responses from 31 Irish and international artists who were invited to respond to the open question of what Freud means to them today. The catalogue can be purchased from the (External) IMMA Shop for €18.00.

Media Releases

IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016-2021: Landmark exhibition of world renowned artist Lucian Freud opens in Dublin September 2016

IMMA Collection: Freud Project - Three Freud Project Residencies awarded to Laura Fitzgerald, Richard John Jones and Bridget O’Gorman / Sue Rainsford at IMMA July 2017

IMMA Collection: Freud Project 2016 - 2021: Two new paintings by Lucian Freud join work by Emily Dickinson, Sigmund Freud and John Berger in a new exhibition at IMMA curated by Irish artist Daphne Wright February 2018

Supported by

IMMA Collection: Freud Project is made possible through the visionary support of the Freud Circle listed below, and those donors that wish to remain anonymous.

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