Marlborough Gallery presents an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Frank Auerbach (b. 1931), one of the pre-eminent painters of the late twentieth century. Marking the occasion of the artist’s 90th birthday, the exhibition features over 30 works ranging from 2000 to the present day, focussing on new portraits and large-scale depictions of urban landscapes near the artist’s London studio.
Auerbach’s manner of making pictures is unchanged and well-known: the reworking of the entire composition at each session, creating an immediacy after the long struggle. He has previously said of his process that, ‘When the forms evoked by the marks seem coherent and alive and surprising and when there are no dead areas, I think the painting may be finished.’
Renowned for his portraits of a small group of people who have sat for him for decades, the exhibition features paintings of regular sitters including Catherine Lampert and David Landau, together with a series of recent paintings of Auerbach’s wife Julia. Created whilst sequestered during the pandemic, an expressive self-portrait Self-Portrait IX, 2020 will also be on view.
Painting the same sitters time and again and depicting the familiar world in the vicinity of his studio over long periods, the artist has described how he has ‘a strong sense of wanting to pin experience down before it disappears.’ Auerbach lives and works in Camden, London. Inspired by its street life and architecture, it is a neighbourhood that he’s painted virtually non-stop since the mid-50s. The rhythm of the city can be felt in the interlocking buildings and rooftops in Tower Block, Hampstead Road, 2007 and From my Door II, 2019. Each painting becomes an intensely observed place at a particular time, fixed forever against the fleetingness of experience.
Auerbach arrived in England in 1939 as a refugee from Nazi Germany and was enrolled at Bunce Court school in Kent. There he met the film director, producer and writer Michael Roemer and a life-long friendship began. A personal and intimate essay by Roemer relating their close friendship and subsequent careers will be published in the exhibition catalogue.
Born in Berlin in 1931, Auerbach trained at St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He has lived and worked in the same London studio since 1954.