An exhibition of early portraits by the artist Frank Auerbach will go on display in a special loan show at Offer Waterman Gallery in London from 2 November – 1 December 2012 (Press View Thursday 31 October 2012).
Frank Auerbach, Early Works 1954 – 1978, curated by independent curator and art historian Catherine Lampert, will feature eighteen works from private collections, oil paintings and charcoal drawings, some not seen for over thirty years, including portraits of some of the artist’s principle sitters, such as close friend and fellow artist Leon Kossoff, the model Juliet Yardley Mills (J.Y.M.), and Estella Olivia West (E.O.W.), Auerbach’s lover until 1973.
Frank Auerbach is a German-born painter and printmaker who was sent to England by his Jewish parents as a refugee in 1939 (he never saw them again) becoming a British citizen in 1947. He studied in London at St Martin’s School of Art, 1948-52, the Royal College of Art, 1952-5, and at evening classes under David Bomberg, whom he found an inspiring teacher. Auerbach’s paintings are in the Expressionist vein of Bomberg’s late work and they are notable for their use of extremely heavy impasto, so that the paint at times seems modelled rather than brushed. His favourite subjects include portraits (particularly of people he knows well), nudes, townscapes, and the building site. The poet Stephen Spender has characterized the figures in his paintings as ‘people who seem burdened with perhaps terrible experience … like refugees conscious of concentration camps’ and he has suggested that Auerbach’s fascination with building sites reflects the destruction he saw around him in his childhood. From the mid-1950s Auerbach has also made prints (drypoints, etchings, and screenprints), his subjects including nudes and portraits. There was a major Arts Council exhibition of Auerbach’s work in 1978, and in 1986 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale-indications of the high reputation he enjoys. As early as 1961, when Auerbach was only 30, David Sylvester wrote of him: ‘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.’
Offer Waterman & Co, established in 1996, is a specialist dealer in 20th Century British art, regularly handling works by Frank Auerbach and many of his contemporaries, including Leon Kossoff and Lucian Freud. The gallery is based in a beautiful Chelsea townhouse, which faces onto an intimate sculpture garden, and exhibits a changing display of paintings and sculpture by prominent British artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and William Turnbull.
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an introductory essay by Paul Moorhouse, Curator of Twentieth Century Portraits at the National Gallery.