NYRB: Celia Paul presents "Self-Portrait," with Judith Thurman

November 12, 2020, 6:00 PM

Celia Paul joins us to present her new book, "Self-Portrait," in conversation with Judith Thurman. This program is part of our ongoing series with NYRB, and will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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A rich, penetrating memoir about the author's relationship with a flawed but influential figure--the painter Lucian Freud--and the satisfactions and struggles of a life lived through art.

One of Britain's most important contemporary painters, Celia Paul has written a reflective, intimate memoir of her life as an artist. Self-Portrait tells the artist's story in her own words, drawn from early journal entries as well as memory, of her childhood in India and her days as a art student at London's Slade School of Fine Art; of her intense decades-long relationship with the older esteemed painter Lucian Freud and the birth of their son; of the challenges of motherhood, the unresolvable conflict between caring for a child and remaining commited to art; of the "invisible skeins between people," the profound familial connections Paul communicates through her paintings of her mother and sisters; and finally, of the mystical presence in her own solitary vision of the world around her. With over seventy illustrations, Self-Portrait is a powerful, liberating evocation of a life and of a life-long dedication to art.

Celia Paul was born in 1959 and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of the British Museum, the UK National Portrait Gallery, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her major solo exhibitions include Celia Paul, curated by Hilton Als, at both the Yale Center for British Art and the Huntington Art Gallery, Los Angeles; and Desdemona for Celia by Hilton at Gallery Met. Her work was included in the exhibition All Too Human at Tate Britain. She lives and works in London.

Judith Thurman is the author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller and Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette. A staff writer at The New Yorker, she lives in New York City.

Celia Paul photo credit: Isabelle Young.
Judith Thurman photo credit: Curt Richter