Frank Auerbach

Born in Berlin to Jewish parents, Auerbach was sent at the age of 8 to England to escape Nazism in 1939 by his parents, who stayed behind in Germany and subsequently died in concentration camps. Auerbach spent his childhood at Bunce Court, a progressive boarding school for Jewish refugee children located in the Kent countryside and was naturalised in 1947.

He later attended St Martin’s School of Art (1948-52) and studied evening classes with David Bomberg at Borough Polytechnic, where he became friends with fellow painter Leon Kossoff. After then studying at the Royal College of Art from 1952-55, Auerbach was given his first solo exhibition at the Beaux-Arts Gallery in London.

Catherine Lampert Seated (1990)
Catherine Lampert Seated (1990) – Frank Auerbach Photo Credit: CEA licensed under CC BY 2.0

His thick application of paint was criticised by some at the beginning of his career but has come to be a distinctive feature of Auerbach’s oeuvre. He is regarded as one of Britain’s most prominent post-war artists and his works are some of the most internationally collected of living artists.

Within Britain’s art world he is known as a hermit, a holy fool who brooks no disruption to his hair-shirt routine of tussling with paint in the studio. There he either works alone or is visited by one of the handful of loyal confidantes who return, week after week, to sit for their portraits. “I am a beast in a burrow that does not wish to be invaded,” he once said.

– An excerpt from an article by Alastair Sook, Art Critic

He has been exhibited across the globe and extensively in London at the Marlborough Gallery, the Haywood Gallery, the National Gallery, and most recently at the TATE Britain.

Auerbach continues to paint portraits and city scenes from his studio in Camden Town.