Great Gamblers of the Art World

Ernest Hemingway, once upon a time, referred to his passion for gambling as a demanding friend. The love for gaming doesn’t make a distinction based upon the profession, and over the past century or more, many great men of the world of arts have dipped their curiosity in the mysterious bosom of lady luck. For some, this friendship with gambling took too enormous a toll, and for others, it was a muse which brought them brilliance through the inspiration which feeds on the misery in the creator’s mind. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon are in the latter group, finding brilliance in this mystical relationship.

Lucian Freud

The grandson to the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was born in 1922 in Berlin. He did not stay there for long and fled the Nazi persecution in the 1930s when he moved to London, where he, later on, became a British citizen. During his early works on the canvas, Freud’s work had a strong undertone of surrealistic influence, but later on, during the 1950s, he found his style.

Freud had a reputation as a very private person and kept mostly to himself and his small circle of friends. His work had such a robust psychological infiltration that it stemmed many to a degree of discomfort, gaining him many accolades for the brilliant realism. Pushed to achieve perfection in his creations, he was known as a painter who would work and rework his creations, again and again, completely exhausting his models. Freud’s career stretched over six decades. Being such a notoriously mysterious character, he managed to bridge various cult eras of his time. He was the man who mingled with Greta Garbo and rubbed shoulders with Frank Sinatra and had relations with England’s most famous gangsters of the time.

Many will remember Freud for his success as a figurative artist; others will recall his painting the Benefits Supervisor Sleeping being sold at a record high of $32 million during 2008. But it is only those who managed to penetrate his inner circle who will remember him for his remarkable gambling habit and Freud maintaining a legendary relationship with lady luck.

Francis Bacon

Bacon too was a figurative painter of the 20th century and a close friend to Freud. The Irish-born Brit would over the extent of his career mostly remain an outlier of the art world. He remained somewhat of an enigmatic figure and had his greatest success post-war, during the late 1950s in London. Today Bacon is regarded as one of the most influential figurative painters which the previous century delivered. Bacon lived a life of sophistication. He was witty and charming and loved socializing in smoky restaurants, sipping away on the groceries of life. This would include the best French champagne, caviar and of course gambling. Like with his excellent friend Freud, Bacon’s attitude to life was also giving it everything regardless of winning or losing, doing it for the thrill. An approach which both artists carried through to their passion for their mistress at the tables of failure and fortune.