(Art)Books we love | Frank Auerbach 

It’s #artbookfriday again. Thank God there are more than enough art books to write about as there are new ones published every day. Today is about a book by art historian Catherine Lampert. I met her in Münster for the preparations of the exhibition “Bare Life” last year and she is just fabulous. She is also one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever met in my life. Long time friend and model for artist legend Frank Auerbach she knows all about the art and artists known today as the “School of London”. And she curated several exhibitions about the group, too.

Frank Auerbach, Interior Vincent Terrace, 1982–84 oil on wood, 47 7⁄8 × 53 3 ⁄4 inches. Private Collection. Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London
Frank Auerbach, Interior Vincent Terrace, 1982–84, oil on wood, 47 7⁄8 × 53 3 ⁄4 inches.
Private Collection. Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London

They worked mainly in the phase between 1950 and 1980 as a loose pioneering group of painters. They began pursuing new directions in figurative art, investing representations of the human body with unprecedented expressiveness and depth and seeking to capture more accurately the truth of human existence. At the core were a few artists such as Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Euan Uglow and Leon Kossoff. Ronald B. Kitaj first referred to the “School of London” in his catalogue introduction to the exhibition titled “The Human Clay” at the Hayward Gallery in 1976. Kitaj noted that while Abstraction and transformations were the dominant mode, there was a special trend towards figurative painting as well as a kind of fixation for the human figure among most London painters. They followed each other’s work closely and exhibited in the same West End gallery.

Frank in his studio with portraits of Leon Kossoff 1954- Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London
Frank in his studio with portraits of Leon Kossoff 1954/55. Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London

All of those artists are very interesting and I am a big fan of Hockney and Kitaj but I loved the stories Catherine told me when I met her. So I just had to get this book and tell you about it. Because she is an intelligent women she didn’t wrote a classical biography but a collection of memories with many quotes by Auerbach himself as a bonus. The book has five large chapters which are kind of chronological and a very thick appendix with more literature, illustrations and a timeline. It’s a very interesting concept of writing a biography and at the same time not. The main focus is defiantly on Auerbach’s art but you get a lot of background information about his life and friends. I didn’t know before that Auerbach’s cousin was the famous German literature critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki and that’s just one example. But the book is not easy to read. As Catherine is such an expert it’s hard to keep track sometimes and I was very happy I had some knowledge about the artist before. I guess you need some extra reading if you don’t because Catherine doesn’t explain much. She is a true storyteller and historian not a teacher. But I think it’s great to get an intellectual challenge sometimes. So if you’re interested in art and like biographies this is your next book to read.

The Book


#book | Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting

#author | Catherine Lampert

#publishing house | Sieveking (Original Thames & Hudson)

#language | German (Translated from English)

#ISBN | 978-3-944874-22-7

#pages | 240

#published | 2015

you can get your copy here.


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