• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7617

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    19 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 20

    Leon Kossoff (b. 1926)

    Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring

    Price Realised  

    Leon Kossoff (b. 1926)
    Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring
    oil on board
    54 x 66in. (137.2 x 167.7cm.)
    Painted in 1981


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Leon Kossoff has long been associated with the School of London, and looking at Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring, it is easy to see why. One of the few members of that loosely-defined movement to have been born in the British capital, Kossoff has come to know it intimately. Over the decades, he has painted the buildings that make up his own personal built environment, often revisiting the landmarks of his life in order to capture them on a different day, with different light, from a different perspective-- this last in terms not only of angle, but also of emotional vantage-point. For Kossoff, the fact that every thing and everyone is different every day results in a fascinating state of flux that he seeks to capture in his paintings. This is made palpable in the sheer materiality of Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring, which was painted in 1981; the accreted oils have an almost organic weight of texture to them and, in the clear traces of the brushwork across the large paint surface, of the artist's own exertions, reveal another facet to this process of change, of flux. There is, then, a sense of matter and of process evident in Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring that adds an existential dimension to its existence. At the same time, the incredible variegation of the paint surface adds a tactile, sensual quality to the work that makes it appear all the more intimate and direct a reaction to the artist's surroundings, to his universe.

    In Red Brick School Building, Willesden, Spring, the building, in an area which the artist knows well having had a studio there for years, has been given a springing energy. It appears to be soaring, crystal-like, from the ground in its vivid reds, an effect that is accentuated by the brushstrokes in the sky which seem to almost emanate from it, lending it an aura. Kossoff has managed to introduce an intensely personal and idiosyncratic expressionism into this depiction of a local landmark, imbuing it with character and emotion in a way that surpasses, say, Sickert and even Kossoff's own teacher, David Bomberg. The personal involvement in the painting is increased by the human presence, in the form of cars and pedestrians. For Kossoff makes a habit of including the people from his own life in his landscapes often their features can be recognised from his studio portraits. The interaction of town and person is vital to him, as is the sheer dramatic effect of the buildings around him. "That's what all painting is about," he has explained. "Space and light occupied by human presences" (Kossoff, quoted in Leon Kossoff speaks to Channel 4 News, 19 March 2007).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie's holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.
    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Provenance

    Fischer Fine Art, London (C 10.109).
    Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 27 June 1991, lot 44.
    Saatchi Collection, London.
    Acquired from the above by the present owners in 1992.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE LONDON COLLECTION


    Exhibited

    New York, Hirschl and Adler, Leon Kossoff, 1983, no. 21 (illustrated in colour on the cover of the exhibition catalogue).
    London, Fischer Fine Art, Leon Kossoff, Recent Work, 1984 (illustrated, p. 19).
    Los Angeles, L.A. Louver, Leon Kossoff, 1984 (illustrated in colour, p. 89).
    Delhi, Lalit Karla Accademi, Proper Study, Contemporary Figurative Paintings from Britain, 1984-1985, no. 71 (illustrated, p. 100). This exhibition later travelled to Bombay, Museum of Modern Art.
    Oslo, Kunstnernes Hus, School of London, Six Figurative Painters, May-June 1987, no. 66 (illustrated in colour). This exhibition later travelled to Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, June-August 1987; Venice, Museo d'Arte Moderna Ca'Pesaro, September-October 1987 and Dusseldorf, Kunstmuseum, November 1987-January 1988.
    London, Tate Gallery, Leon Kossoff, June-September 1996, no. 60 (illustrated in colour, p. 116).