Frank Auerbach b. 1931

Frank Auerbach was born in Berlin of Jewish parents; his father was a lawyer and his mother a former art student. He came to England in 1939 as a refugee from Germany and later began his studies in art in 1947 at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, during which time he also became a British citizen. Following this he studied under the artist David Bomberg, during which period he developed a friendship with fellow student Leon Kossoff, before going to St Martin’s School of Art from 1948-52, and the Royal College of Art from 1952-55, where he was awarded a Silver Medal and First Class Honours.

Auerbach is known for the heavy impasto of his paintings, where the brush strokes and layers of paint take on the sculptural quality of a relief, although in many of his later works, the layers of paint indicative of his early paintings are instead scraped away before being repainted. His style is reminiscent of the later expressionist paintings by Bomberg, while his subject matter has been considered repetitive by some critics; a painter of portraits, nudes, building sites and urban landscapes, all depictions which he will return to again and again.

The critic and art historian David Sylvester has been an important advocate of Auerbach’s work throughout his career, once writing: It is because of the subtle and profound way in which Auerbach’s work gives expression and coherence to the complexity of our perceptions of simple things, that he is for me the most interesting painter in this country.... read more

Frank Auerbach Video: Head of JYM at Masterpiece 2020 Video: Head of JYM at Masterpiece 2020

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Frank Auerbach: Head of JYM III, 1980