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Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Forming part of a treasured private collection for over sixty years, Head of Leon Kossoff (1953), Study of a Nude (1954) and Study of a Seated Nude (1955) are three outstanding works by the venerated School of London artist Frank Auerbach. Owned by the artist's life-long friend, the film director Clive Donner, these works were bought with his first big industry paycheck in the 1950s. At this time, Donner was swiftly becoming a defining part of British new wave film. His major break-through directing role came in 1963 with the release of the shoestring budget production, The Caretaker, which was funded through small individual contributions from luminaries such as Richard Burton, Noël Coward, Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor, the actors waiving their usual fees in favour of a share of the revenues. The film was a runaway success, being shown at the Berlin International Film Festival. It firmly established Donner within the canon of great contemporary directors and acted as a platform for other major productions such as What's New Pussycat (1965) and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968) that were to so perfectly capture the spirit of the Swinging Sixties. During the 1950s, Auerbach was particularly influenced by the examples of the artists around him, becoming an avid visitor to art galleries and museums, often making sorties with his friend Leon Kossoff to the National Gallery in London, gravitating towards William Hogarth and the Dutch master painter Rembrandt. It is perhaps fitting then, that Auerbach would turn to his companion as a subject for his painting. The third portrait of Kossoff ever to be realised, and the missing painting in Auerbach's catalogue raisonné, it is a thick sculptural work, paint literally flowing over its edges, and one of the most cherished in Donner's collection. It is rendered entirely in black and white, with the surface of the painting heavily laden with swathes of luxurious paint. The head fills the frame, counteracting the density of paint with the highly dexterous movements of the artist's brush and it's shifting textures. The features and expression of the face are rendered through wedges of paint: the eyes, dark black shadows and the mouth, a horizontal line. There is an abundant sense of light in this picture, Auerbach highlighting the young Kossoff's face with bright white. Kossoff and Auerbach had been students together studying at St Martin's School of Art, also attending evening classes by the maverick artist David Bomberg at Borough Polytechnic, whose concept of the 'spirit of the mass' was to so influence both men's practice. As Auerbach once mused, 'I think Leon and I were perhaps a bit rougher and more rebellious than the other students. We wanted something a little less urbane, a little less tea-time, a little less limited' (Auerbach, quoted in R. Hughes, Frank Auerbach, London 1990, p. 29). Study of a Nude (1954) and Study of a Seated Nude (1955) represent two of Auerbach's early and expressive drawings depicting his former lover Estella 'Stella' West, whom he devotedly painted for over twenty years. In both drawings, Auerbach has captured Stella in an intimate moment, unclothed, the sensual fullness of her body realised through a series of frantic, lustful lines. In Study of a Nude, Auerbach employs a russet coloured crayon to cross hatch her frame and highlight her soft contours to great effect. As Auerbach explained, 'when I did them, they simply felt to me to be true and that's been the way all the way through' (Auerbach, quoted in W. Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, p. 11). PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF CLIVE DONNER
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)

Portrait of Leon Kossoff

Details
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
Portrait of Leon Kossoff
oil on board
6 3/8 x 5½in. (16 x 14cm.)
Painted in 1953
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in the 1950s.
Literature
W. Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, no. 18, p. 238.
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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Beatriz Ordovas
Beatriz Ordovas

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