Irish Museum of Modern Art Go to the fully accessible text-only version

What's New >

View the Events Calendar >

Join the Mailing List >

Low Graphics Version >

Virtual Tours >


Collection > Past Exhibitions

IMMA Collection: Freud Project, 2016 – 2021

“Book Now21 October 2016 – 7 January 2018

Freud, Lucian (1922-2011) / Reflection (Self Portrait) / 1985 / (oil on canvas) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Image

The second exhibition as part of the IMMA Collection: Freud Project is called Ethics of Scrutiny, curated by Irish artist Daphne Wright it will run from 15 February to 2 September 2018. Further details

IMMA has 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.

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.

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 will be 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.

The works, on loan from private collections, will be presented in a dedicated Freud Centre in IMMA’s Garden Galleries for five years. With this extraordinary resource IMMA will create 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.


“Book NowWednesday - Sunday: €8/5
Tuesday: Free

Always free for IMMA Members, full-time students and under 18’s.

Monies raised through admission charges will directly contribute to the care and development of the IMMA Collection.

Admission will be by timed entry, due to the number and delicate nature of the works and the limited circulation space of the historic building that houses the Freud Centre. To avoid disappointment please pre-book your preferred time-slot online in advance of visiting. Online booking is now open.

About the artist

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 Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane.

Associated Events

Curators Lunchtime Talk Series
Friday 21 April, 1.15-2pm, Free
Meeting Point, Main Reception, Drop-In
Join IMMA's Head of Collections Christina Kennedy for an insightful walkthrough of the IMMA Collection: Freud Project, hear more about the artworks presented and details of the project.
(Exhibition entrance fee applies)

Artist Talk | Ellen Altfest on the work of Freud
Sat 24 June, 1 - 2pm / Lecture Room
In conjunction with this exhibition renowned American painter Ellen Altfest responds to a selection of Freud works presented in IMMA’s galleries. Considering a subjective response to human form, Altfest’s discusses her own distinct and devoted approach to figurative and representational painting. Listen back to this talk.

Lucian Freud Lecture Series
To celebrate the first anniversary of the IMMA Collection: Freud Project, IMMA is delighted to present a Lucian Freud Lecture Series in collaboration with The Irish Art Research Centre, Trinity College, Dublin (TRIARC). IMMA and TRIARC invite 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.

Martin Gayford  / Sitting For Freud
Wednesday 18 October 2017, 7pm - 8pm
Venue: Robert Emmett Lecture Hall, Trinity College Dublin
To launch the Lucian Freud Lecture Series, distinguished art critic Martin Gayford presents a keynote lecture on his experiences of sitting for Lucian Freud. Gayford's talk draws on his acclaimed publication Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud, 2012 which takes the reader into that most private and intriguing place, the artist's studio. A drinks reception follows in the Atrium, Trinity College Dublin. Listen back to this talk 

Dr Yvonne Scott / What is a Portrait? Lucian Freud & Art History
Wednesday 1 November  2017, 7pm – 8pm
Venue: IMMA

Everyone is familiar with the idea of a portrait, but the concept becomes elusive when you attempt to define it. Is it about a recognisable likeness of a person or psychological penetration? Is a portrait ultimately revealing or diversionary? Does it say as much about the artist as the sitter? What clues can one read from the way the subject is depicted? This lecture questions the meaning of portraiture and its role in art history, preliminary to exploring the revelations of Lucian Freud. Dr Yvonne Scott is Associate Professor in History of Art, and Director of TRIARC, the Irish Art Research Centre, at Trinity College Dublin. Listen back to his talk

Christina Kennedy / When the familiar becomes strange: Freud and the Contemporary
Wednesday 6 December 2017, 7pm – 8pm / Robert Emmett Lecture Hall, Trinity College Dublin
This lecture explores Freud’s processes, mechanisms, motivations and how they link to contemporary life and conditions within and beyond the art context. Among the topics of discussion include: ‘The psychology of space’, ‘animism in objects’, ‘framings and settings’ and ‘the studio as site / counter-site’. Topics will be explored through the work of Irish and international artists including Daphne Wright, Ellen Altfest, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Saville, William Sasnal, Amy Sillman, John Lalor,  Kathy Prendergast, Diana Copperwhite, Nick Miller, Niamh O’Malley, Mark O’Kelly, Laura Fitzpatrick, Bridget O’Gorman & Sue Rainsford,  Richard John Jones and others. Listen back to this talk

Exhibition Resources

Listen back to the Preview Talk with Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery (NPG) London and David Dawson, artist, Freud’s assistant and friend of 20 years, as they offer an insightful reflection on Freud’s studio, archive and last major exhibition held at the NPG, involving the artist during his lifetime.

Read a review in The Irish Times

Listen to an interview with David Dawson, Artist, Lucian Freud’s studio assistant and friend of 20 years and Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator: Head of Collection, on Arena, RTE Radio One.

Listen to an interview with Patricia Brennan from our Visitor Engagement Team on the Freud Project on Dublin South FM.

Read the exhibition guide

Resources for second level students and teachers.

Media Release


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.


Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email: