The Fat Lady Sings

An exhibit affirms Lucian Freud, 71, as the best realist painter alive

Most artists, one imagines, dream of achieving a great late style -- the uprush and resolution in old age, careless of aesthetic risk, sometimes even a little mad, that carry a life's effort into profundity. Few, obviously, manage anything of the sort. The retrospective of paintings by Lucian Freud, 71, which opened last week at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, sets before us one who has.

To see Freud's new work at full stretch, one need only look at the final painting in the show, finished just last month (too late for the catalog): Evening in the Studio. It...

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