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School of London Collage

School of London

Started: 1976

Ended: 1990

School of London Timeline

Quotes

"You ask why I'm fascinated by the human figure? As a human animal, I am interested in some of my fellow animals: in their minds and bodies."
Lucian Freud
"I want paint to work as flesh."
Lucian Freud
"My work is purely autobiographical... It is about myself and my surroundings."
Lucian Freud
"I began again, after some years, to learn to draw, mainly from life, at what I will call a higher pitch, a pitch of some ambition and skill and quality. I sought to train myself to achieve the kind of drawing many modernists I admired had done in their early years, well before their iconoclastic periods."
R.B. Kitaj
"Faces are the most interesting things we see; other people fascinate me, and the most interesting aspect of other people - the point where we go inside them - is the face. It tells all."
David Hockney
"I am a representational painter, but not a painter of appearances. I paint representational pictures of emotional situations."
Howard Hodgkin
"What I am trying to make is a stonking, independent, coherent image that has never been seen before...that stalks into the world like a new monster."
Frank Auerbach
"What I wanted to do was to record the life that seemed to me to be passionate and exciting and disappearing all the time."
Frank Auerbach
"This part of London is my world. I've been wandering around these streets for so long that I've become attached to them and as fond of them as people are to their pets."
Frank Auerbach

KEY ARTISTS

Lucian FreudLucian Freud
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Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
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Michael AndrewsMichael Andrews
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Leon KossoffLeon Kossoff
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R. B. KitajR. B. Kitaj
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Frank AuerbachFrank Auerbach
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More Top Artists

"You want accuracy, but not representation. If you know how to make the figuration, it doesn't work. Anything you can make, you make by accident. In painting, you have to know what you do, not how, when you do it."

Francis Bacon Signature

Synopsis

Less a stylistic movement and more a social group of artists who explored similar themes, the School of London revolutionized figurative painting after World War II. Not named such until 1976, a diverse group of artists, including R. B. Kitaj, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Howard Hodgkin, Leon Krossoff, Michael Andrews, and David Hockney, explored the human form and devastated landscapes in the wake of the physical and moral destruction wreaked by war. They wrote no manifestoes or credos and painted in diverse styles, but they mostly probed autobiographical subjects, including portraits and settings of friends and intimates.

Finding commonalities with other artists across Europe and even in the United States who were not committed to pure abstraction, the School of London generated enormous interest in figurative painting among a younger generation of artists, including Jenny Saville, Cecily Brown, and Peter Doig among many, many others.

Key Ideas

Like many artists after World War II, the School of London artists attempted a reckoning of recent history and tried to imagine new ways of seeing oneself and one's fellow human beings. Like contemporary philosophers exploring Existentialism and phenomenology, the artists attempted to break down old habits and modes of seeing in order to recreate new ways of interaction.
Paintings created by School of London artists ranged from pristinely smooth to thickly encrusted surfaces, but in all instances the artists hoped to convey the psychological depths not only of their subjects but their own as well. At times empathetic and other times damning, the artists depicted their subjects through their own personal lenses, creating complex portraits and landscapes that spoke to uneasy times.
The artists combined influences of the Old Masters with popular culture, film, and literature, giving their subjects a seriousness and probity that had not recently been seen in figurative painting but that still felt current and recognizable.

Beginnings

School of London Image

Many of the School of London painters were already well-established and even famous prior to the naming of the group, and they came from a variety of backgrounds, carried different influences, and painted in a myriad of styles.

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School of London Overview Continues

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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