Lot 5: FRANK AUERBACH
Contemporary Art, Evening
June 23, 2004
London, United Kingdom
oil on canvas
Executed in 1983.
Since arriving as a Jewish refugee in 1939 aged eight, and being orphaned shortly after, Frank Auerbach has always felt a strong affinity with London, seeing himself as a 'born again Londoner', one who has acquired all the city's cultural baggage and strong sense of identity. Auerbach's love affair with London represents one of the most significant attachments in his life, providing the inspiration for some of his most emotionally charged and powerful works. His small, cave-like studio in North West London - between Mornington Crescent and the park of Primrose Hill, close to Sickert's old studio - has become a second home to the artist, where he has worked for the last forty years. Auerbach once remarked, "I hate leaving my studio...I hate leaving London. I don't think I have spent more than five weeks abroad since I was seven." (Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p. 83)
This heartfelt devotion to his workplace and to his adopted environment is powerfully conveyed in To the Studios II, part of a series of similar paintings in which Auerbach depicted the familiar landscape around Mornington Crescent and his studio. The landscapes and townscapes allowed the artist to liberate his colour, freed from the constraints of his oppressively dark studio. Importantly, landscapes did not require a mutual relationship - they did not stare back, and were open to a different realm of invention. As Auerbach elaborated, "There has to be a conflict between what one wants and what actually exists; so one goes out and does a drawing, and it's always easier to do a drawing of a place nearby. Also there is a kind of intimacy and excitement and confidence that comes from inhabiting the painting and knowing exactly where everything is, and a sort of magic in conjuring up a real place, a record that is somewhere between one's feeling...and the appearance." (Frank Auerbach in Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p. 160)
Bathed in luminous light and shadow, the rich, warm tones manifest a vivid sense of diagonal movement and geometric structure, that reflects Auerbach's appetite for his studio as well as his passionate creative process. The present work offers rare expression of his daily pilgrimage to his studio and the heightened emotions this familiar journey and its landmarks involve for the artist. Expressed theatrically through a beautifully orchestrated concert of colours and brushmarks, the present work "projects the immediacy of Auerbach's experience... in a way that is deeply mediated, impacted with cultural memories and desires." (Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p. 214)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, LONDON
Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 1983
68 by 63.5cm.
26 3/4 by 25in.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., On View: Paintings by Auerbach, Bacon, Botero, Kitaj, Pasmore. Sculpture by Chadwick, Hepworth, Lipchitz, Moore, 1983
Venice, The British Pavilion, XLII Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte, Frank Auerbach, Paintings and Drawings 1977-1985, 1986, p. 44, no. 25, illustrated in colour
Hamburg, Kunstverein; Essen, Museum Folkwang, Frank Auerbach, 1986-87, p. 64, no. 31, illustrated in colour
Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Frank Auerbach, 1987
Date: B. 1931