Frank Auerbach - A very good essay

Essay by NLMennace2SocietyHigh School, 11th gradeA, March 2003

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Frank Auerbach

One of Britain's leading post-war painters, Frank Auerbach is among the most internationally acclaimed and collected of living artists from Britain.

The painting style of Frank Auerbach is both compactly expressionistic and highly individual. Determined by his desire to capture the spirit and reality of people and places, his paintings, which he works and re-works, produce a powerful surface impact. Auerbach's painting include landscapes, figure studies and Old Master inspired works. In particular Auerbach's glee in his intimacy with the urban landscape of London's Camden Town - where he has had a studio since 1954 - and nearby Primrose Hill. The investigation of the human figure and face is one of Auerbach's constant themes and he has painted portrait studies of the same small group of people close to him over many years. 'To paint the same head over and over' Auerbach has said 'gives one a sense of pursuing an essential truth'.

As an art student Auerbach made frequent visits to the National Gallery and he continues to draw inspiration from its collection of Old Master paintings. It is appropriate therefore that this nostalgic coincides with the RA's exhibition Rembrandt's Women which includes the National Gallery's Hendrickje Stoffels a painting that Auerbach has drawn. I went to these exhibitions to find out more and learn about Auerbach's paintings and his historic influences. As art critic Robert Hughes pointed out, it is the structure of masterpieces such as this Rembrandt portrait that must have affected Auerbach's own paintings such as Portrait of JYM Seated (1976).

Frank Auerbach was born in Berlin to Jewish parents in 1931. He was sent to England in 1939 and moved from school in Kent to London in 1947. Between 1948-55 he studied part-time under the artist David Bomberg. Bomberg had been a...