Leigh Bowery posing for Lucian Freud with the painting ‘Leigh under the Skylight’, 1994
© The Estate of Bruce Bernard

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Leigh Bowery posing for Lucian Freud with the painting ‘Leigh under the Skylight’, 1994 1994
The flamboyant performance artist Leigh Bowery (1961-1994) was a favourite model of Freud. He first saw Bowery perform at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London, when he appeared in a variety of colourful and dramatic outfits. The artist became fascinated by this strange figure - the shape of his body, tone of his skin and his monumental presence. Freud preferred to know his models well in order to portray them most effectively. He made several paintings of Bowery over a period of four years, during which time they became friends. It was a relationship of mutual inspiration, as Freud considered his model to be ‘perfectly beautiful’ and Bowery loved to pose for Freud. He explained that, ‘because he is an artist who always works in the figurative idiom he has given me lots of ideas’.

Glossary Open

Performance art

Works in which the actions of the artist constitute the art. Artists have used performance techniques throughout the 20th century but the term is usually applied to works from the 1960s onwards.

Performance art

Details

  • Acc. No. GMA 4707
  • Medium Colour C-type print on paper (printed 1996; 11/25)
  • Size 46.00 x 31.70 cm (paper: 50.80 x 40.50 cm)
  • Credit Presented by the Estate of the Artist, 2003