Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)

David Landau Seated

Details
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
David Landau Seated
oil on canvas
22 x 20 3/8in. (56 x 51.8cm.)
Painted in 2016-2017
Provenance
Marlborough Fine Art, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

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.

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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

Frank Auerbach’s David Landau Seated is an emphatic and empathetic painting, part of an extensive series of portraits the artist has made of the art patron David Landau. The two first met in 1983, when Landau was looking for someone to paint a portrait of the historian Asa Briggs for Worcester College, Oxford; ultimately, Auerbach did not paint Briggs, but instead Landau, who has since sat for the artist more than forty-five times. Reflecting upon the artist, Landau said, ‘I thought – and still think – he is our greatest living painter… Each [portrait he has made] draws me back to the time it was painted. He is a tremendous friend: the only person, apart from my wife, who I’ve seen so consistently for so long. He has shown me how art is produced: how hard it is to achieve greatness, and how exciting it is to be there when, after 10 or 12 months, a painting is finally finished. It’s a magic moment – like witnessing a birth’ (D. Landau quoted in L. Bennett, ‘Sitting for Frank Auerbach: 'It's rather like being at the dentist’, The Guardian, 30 September 2015). In the 2016-2017 portrait, Landau emerges out of diaphanous veils of green and pink, his face a morphing blend of delicate colour rendered in thick expressive brushstrokes.
Auerbach is a painter of what is familiar to him, and the portraits and scenes that he repeatedly returns to form an extensive psychic and emotional topography of his inner landscape. The swirling brushstrokes of David Landau Seated perfectly encapsulate the heady abandon of the artist to his subjects. There is a meditative, emotional quality to the tactile paint, as his heavy impasto can take months to build up and scrape back; Auerbach paints slowly and methodically. Describing this process, Auerbach said, ‘As soon as I become consciously aware of what the paint is doing my involvement with the painting is weakened. Paint is at its most eloquent when it is a by-product of some corporeal, spatial, developing imaginative concept, a creative identification with the subject’ (F. Auerbach, quoted in C. Lampert et al (eds.), Frank Auerbach Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2001, p. 27). Certainly, David Landau Seated is imbued with a sensation of fraternal warmth built upon years of getting to know and deep observation of a person. Landau becomes a striking and intimate depiction rendered in generous, vibrant colour.

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