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Lucian Freud’s Constable

How surprising is it that Lucian Freud is curating a Constable show in Paris? Not at all, in fact, for while the YBAs have tried to upset the establishment, the OBAs have lately been digging their heels hard into the past. “Encounters: New Art from Old,” the millennial show at London’s National Gallery, reinforced this retrospection by calling on twenty-four artists, thirteen of them British, to select one of the collection’s masterpieces and translate it into their own idiom. In their choices British art also figured large: Turner turned up twice, thoroughly digested and resurrected by Cy Twombly and Louise Bourgeois; Hogarth’s narratives got an update from Paula Rego; an aristocratic horse by Stubbs was demoted to a pitiful donkey by Jeff Wall; and Constable’s Haywain was slashed to stormy fragments by Frank Auerbach. As for Lucian Freud, he chose to revisit the French eighteenth century,

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