I suppose you are looking forward to being seven and a half at the weekend, it is a big milestone in your young life so make the most of it, I remember being seven and a half myself and it doesn’t seem so long ago,at least not to me.
Today the Unseen University have tasked me with unearthing some details about Frank Auerbach, if you need to see the pctures you will need to click on the links in the bibligraphy.
Frank Auerbach’s process involves putting paint on and scraping it back off again until he feels that the image has a solidity, a weight and a reality. He work in a similar process with his charcoal portraits putting charcoal on and rubbing it off so many times that it is not unusual for him to rub away the support and have to include a patch in the paper where it is worn away.
Over the years Auerbach has used a limited number of sitters who sat for two hours a week over a long number of years, with each portrait taking up to thirty or even forty sittings he therefore knows his subjects well. At the end of a series of sittings, the paint is again scraped off and the portrait is completed in a single sitting. This makes the final painting very fresh in appearance and because of the extended sitting Auerbach easily captures a likeness as he has practiced the likeness many times. While researching this essay I came across some Polaroids that Frank had taken of his sitters and the likenesses are uncanny. Auerbach said that the end result of his process is always a surprise (Lampert 163) so the likeness is double uncanny.
Auerbach portraits have a vivid three dimensionality with a sense of air and space around them and the weight of the image is also very important to Auerbach. He achieved this in his landscapes and cityscapes but especially so in his portraits. His heads combine seamlessly with the background to form a complete image across the picture plane.
Over thirty or forty sittings Auerbach would get to see many moods of his sitters, and some of his sitters have sat for twenty or more years, this amongst other things and together with the cramped spaces in which the portraits were made , gives Auerbach an intimate knowledge of his sitters which he exploits to portray a great sense of reality and humanity in his portraits.
There is currently an exhibition of five paintings in the National Portrait gallery in Room 32 on the first floor, the portraits are by Ingres Degas Sickert, Bomberg and Auerbach. The exhibition is titled One Unbroken Stream from a quote by Sickert. Auerbach is the last of the artists in the stream each of whom was taught their predecessor. By googling portraits by these particular artists, the stream running through them is very evident, widening and progressive even though Auerbach prefers to distance himself from Sickert (Lampert 182)
Auerbach’s love of process and material has served to make him ome of the greatest painters of the twentieth century
Lampert C.: Frank Auerbach Speaking and Painting. 2015 London, Thames and Hudson
Clark C. J. & Lampert C.; Feank Auerbach 2015 London Tate Publishing Ltd
I hope you enjoyed my investigation of Auerbach, and sadly I will not see you this weekend as I am going to Liverpool so have a happy half birthday and don’t worry, I gave your present to Aunty Loz to deliver to you, I hope you like it.
My love as always