Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting

Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0500239258

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A rare and fascinating account of one of modern and contemporary painting’s most powerful creative minds

In the course of a career covering more than sixty years, Frank Auerbach has established a still growing international reputation for his paintings of friends, family, and surroundings in north London, with his vigorous, precise brushwork, and for his insistence on working until the picture emerges, free of all “possible explanations.”

Catherine Lampert, an art historian and the curator of a major Auerbach retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Bonn and Tate Britain, has had unique access to the artist since 1978, when she became one of his sitters. Drawing on her conversations with Auerbach and from published and archival interviews, she offers rare insight into his professional life, working methods, and philosophy, as well as the places, people, and experiences that have shaped his life. These include arriving in Britain as a seven-year-old refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939, finding his way in the London art world of the 1950s and 60s, his friendships with Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon, and Lucian Freud, among others, and his approaches to looking and painting throughout his working life. The text is complemented by illustrations of Auerbach’s paintings and drawings as well as by images from his studio and personal photographs that have never been published before. 100 illustrations, 78 in color

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the curator Paul Moorhouse put it in his essay in the Courtauld catalogue: ‘The writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir identified a world in which man existed in the absence of any divine plan,’ and consequently artists could immerse themselves in ‘a private quest’ as they progressively restated an image.6 Auerbach sometimes reflects on the mentality of the period. ‘I very much liked the idea that you made your own justification for existence. I don’t think I can

in the pioneering days of Cubism. It was an analogy he had used before in connection with Kossoff, the implication being that during their student years and beyond as one artist managed to grasp what he saw and transpose ‘the sense of corporeal reality’, however laborious the process, on to paper or canvas, the other was challenged to do something even more extraordinary. They frequently worked in proximity. In 1950, Kossoff had taken over the purpose-built studio with north-facing light near

Gogh, and to Degas at the end of his life: ‘their feelings about clouds above cornfields, aloneness, blindness … it’s all contained within their paintmarks. One can feel how it’s been done if one is at all alive to anything – the moral quality’s always there.’ Since everybody has only a certain amount of energy, it is essential to direct it at what really matters to each individual. ‘Fragments’ was published the year after Jake was born, and it is clear that being an involved parent conflicts

Arriving at the Borough Polytechnic Institute located on Southwark Bridge Road, he met Mr Patrick, the principal of the art school, a cake designer and a kind man, who agreed to admit him immediately. Founded in 1892, the college had a mixture of part-time and full-time students who crossed generations and classes; many had been in the Forces and were, as Auerbach put it, ‘actually serious about life’. In keeping with the postwar mood of egalitarianism, here and elsewhere, there was a feeling

Norman Reid, 30 December 1972. A summary of these remarks was published in a description of new acquisitions, The Tate Gallery 1970–72, for T1270, pp. 76–77. 52 Colin Wiggins, ‘Rubens: Samson and Delilah’, in Wiggins 1995, p. 20. 53 Although Auerbach began drawing from paintings in the National Gallery while a student, most of these sketches were thrown away. A group, the majority dating from 1981–93, from a larger donation by James Kirkman, was displayed for years in rows on the red walls of

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