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Artists Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach Photo

Frank Auerbach

British Painter

Movements and Styles: School of London, Abstract Expressionism

Born: 1931 - Berlin, Germany

Frank Auerbach Timeline

Quotes

"[A]s soon as I become consciously aware of what the paint is doing my involvement with the painting is weakened. Paint is at its most eloquent when it is a by-product of some corporeal, spatial, developing imaginative concept, a creative identification with the subject."
Frank Auerbach
"I hope I still have what Hemingway called the 'shit detector,' that I'm still severe enough with myself if something is not finished to destroy it and start again. Although I use much less paint now than when I couldn't really afford it, 95% of it still ends up in the bin. I think I'm trying to find a new way to express something. So I rehearse all the other ways until I surprise myself with something I haven't previously considered."
Frank Auerbach
"I have never been particularly happy looking at my own pictures and have always found myself reluctant to talk about them... I really don't want to think about what affect - what I do - has on other people and I don't feel happy with the idea of being interviewed."
Frank Auerbach
"I want everything in the painting to work, that is, every force, every plane, every direction to relate to every other direction in the painting - so there's no paradiddle or blot somewhere. I feel very strongly that if a painting is going to work, it has to work before you have a chance to read it. Great Rembrandts shake you. There is a tension between unity and difference; one great wave or wind holding it all together as one. A [good] painting concentrates the experience of being."
Frank Auerbach
"Likeness is a very complicated business indeed....If something looks like a painting it does not look like an experience; if something looks like a portrait it doesn't really look like a person."
Frank Auerbach
"Picasso...has made this thing in his imaginative private mind and there it is, and it's captured the world. That's what people want to see, they don't want to see something they know about already, they don't want to have a programme presented to them of something they believe in or approve of, they want this amazing thing they haven't thought of before."
Frank Auerbach

"Painting is not manufactured. Each picture has its own history. The only constants are the fact that it always takes a long time, sometimes a very long time...."

Synopsis

An intensely private man who prefers to let his paintings speak for themselves, London-based painter Frank Auerbach occupies the position of a Modern Master. His fusion of realism, abstraction, and psychological introspection in sculptural layers of paint took post-World War II painting in new directions. But more than rendering his own subjective view of a person or a landscape, Auerbach thematizes seeing in his paintings, insisting that viewers take notice of how we perceive and form images in our mind and give them meaning.

Part of the influential School of London, Auerbach formed close friendships with Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, but he also influenced scores of more contemporary painters who are exploring the human body and flesh, including Jenny Saville, Cecily Brown, Adrian Ghenie, and Antony Micallef.

Key Ideas

Like many post-World War II artists, Auerbach saw little need to make sharp distinctions between figuration and abstraction. Instead using boldly gestural strokes and thick impastos of paint to render his subjects, Auerbach painted psychological portraits and moody landscapes that captured the cultural weariness and melancholia of the time brought on by the devastations of the war.
Known for his densely painted canvases, sometimes inches thick, Auerbach's paintings seem archaeological, with the viewer attempting to excavate the layers of the composition to uncover various perspectives and memories that went into the creation of the final image before them.
Auerbach's portraits and landscapes both emerge from the canvas and dissolve into the paint, suggesting their mutability and impermanence. Calling attention to the instability of self-perception and nature, Auerbach's paintings expose the methods by which we make sense of ourselves and the world around us.

Biography

Frank Auerbach Photo

Childhood

Frank Auerbach was born in Berlin in 1931 to an upper-middle class family that descended from a line of rabbis. His mother Charlotte was a former art student, and his father Max was a patent lawyer.

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Frank Auerbach Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Frank Auerbach
Interactive chart with Frank Auerbach's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Rembrandt van RijnRembrandt van Rijn
Peter Paul RubensPeter Paul Rubens
John ConstableJohn Constable
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Lucian FreudLucian Freud
Leon KossoffLeon Kossoff
R. B. KitajR. B. Kitaj

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach
Years Worked: 1946 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Glenn Brown
Jay DeFeoJay DeFeo
Shaun McDowell
Dana Schutz

Personal Contacts

Lucian FreudLucian Freud
Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Leon KossoffLeon Kossoff

Movements

School of LondonSchool of London
Contemporary Figurative Painting

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Content compiled and written by Kristen Osborne-Bartucca

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Kristen Osborne-Bartucca
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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