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Frank Auerbach  (b. 1931)

Nationality:BritishApproach:Figurative, expressionistic School of London
1931, 29 April: Born in Berlin, son of Max Auerbach, a patent lawyer, and Charlotte Nora Burchardt, who had studied art.
1939, 4 April: After arrangements initated in 1937, Auerbach and five other children, sponsored by the writer Iris Origo, were sent to school in England. Auerbach's parents took him to Hamburg to board ship, and did not see their son again.
1947: He acted in small parts in play at the Tavistock Theatre, the Torch Theatre, the Twentieth Century Theatre and the Unity Theatre, where he met Estella West. They were both cast, she as a Russian landlady and he as a batman (with one line), in Frank Marcus's production of the The House of Regrets by Peter Ustinov.
1954: Auerbach met Leon Kossoff and Phil Holmes at St Martin's.
1952: Although he drew during college life classes, he painted out of college, in his Fulham Broadway room.
1954: Moved to the studio in Camden occupied by Kossoff until his marriage (and before that by Gustav Metzger).
1955: Taught at first in secondary schools and then, until 1968, for one day a week at various art colleges including Ravensbourne, Camberwell, Ealing, Sidcup and lastly the Slade School of Art, where William Coldstream was professor. His students included Ray Atkins, Christopher Couch, Mike Knowles, Peter Prendergast, John Virtue and many others.
1956-60: Auerbach's paintings of building sites continued: the Shell Building on the South Bank, Oxford Street, the Maples store, Victoria Street and other locations such as the Carreras cigarette factory in Mornington Crescent, the Bethnal Green railway arches, and the Smithfield Meat Market. J.Y.M. (Julia Yardley Mills) began modelling in 1956.
1958: Married Julia Wolstenholme, a painter also studying at the Royal College. Their son Jacob (Jake) was born the same year.
1961: Auerbach made two versions of Rembrandt's National Gallery Deposition, the existing one (cat.26) based on an earlier, more detailed version.
1966: Auerbach began working on the subject of Camden Palace Theatre, located at the junction of Camden High Street, Mornington Crescent and Crowndale Road. Several pictures include the statue of Sickert's father-in-law, Richard Cobden.
1971: A version of the National Gallery's Bacchus and Ariadne completed it was painted form sketches made in front of the original that parallel radical developments in his on-going pictures of Primrose Hill and Mornington Crescent.
1987: Auerbach began painting in acrylic as well as oil.
2001: The film directed and produced by Hannah Rothschild and Jake Auerbach was the first to document in depth the locations and sitters in Auerbach's work.


1955: Left the Royal College in the summer of 1955 with a silver medal and first-class honours.
1952: Continued his studies at the Royal College of Art after being classified unfit for the army. He overlapped as a student with Joe Tilson, Bridget Riley and Leon Kossoff.
1948: Continued to attend David Bomberg's drawing classes at the Borough two evenings a week.
1948: Accepted at the Borough Polytechnic Institute where he studied for two terms before beginning at St Martin's School of Art in September (he left St Martin's in 1952)
1947: Attended painting classes at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute.
1947: Left school with the Higher School Certificate.
1940-45: The school was evacuated to Shropshire. Many of the teachers were German-Austrian refugees or English conscientious objectors.
1939: Attended, Bunce Court at Lenham, near Faversham in Kent, the school was founded by Anna Essinger, a German Jewish-Quaker who had started a private school in southern Germany, which was relocated to England in 1933.


1986: XLII Venice Biennale, Auerbach shared the Golden Lion prize with Sigmar Polke.

Other Activities

1961: David Wilkie, an insurance clerk in the City who devoted his modest means to purchasing paintings, commissioned Auerbach to paint a work based on Titian in 1965. He requested Tarquin and Lucretia (the version in the Akademie der Bildenden Kunst in Vienna) which he had seen at the Tate Gallery in 1948. The two versions were painted in the presence of a model posing for the female figure. Auerbach responded to a subsequent commission by painting a theme Titian might have chosen, The Origin of the Great Bear, using Hampstead Heath as a setting, with details of passing dogs and their masters, a bird and the Royal Free Hospital.
1976: Wilkie's final commission was to have been a work based on Bernini's The Ecstasy of St Teresa in Santa Maria Vittoria in Rome, but in the event Wilkie's second idea, a portrait of Rimbaud, was produced. Wilkie kept his works at home in Brentwood - the earlier ones were shown as a group at the University of Essex in 1973 - and bequeathed them to the Tate Gallery which organised a special display in 1994.

Biographical Notes

Details from Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings 1954-2001, Royal Academy of Arts, 2001

Works by Frank Auerbach 

Earls Court Building Site
Frank Auerbach 1955

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