How are traditional auction houses changing?

Jonathan Horwich
Modern & Contemporary Art Specialist

The sad passing of Lucian Freud in 2011 and Leon Kossoff in 2019, leaves Frank Auerbach as the last of these three great Titans of Post War British painting, they had a shared heritage and passion for painting in the traditional mediums of oil paint, works on paper and in print.

Auerbach is a wonderfully enigmatic perfectionist and although I have never met him in person, I feel I have heard enough about him from his regular sitters to enable me to feel I know a little of his character and working methods. I have heard him speak, albeit only once, it happened quite by chance. I was in a supermarket car park and turned-on Radio 4 there to my delight there he was talking about his art, life and an upcoming exhibition, I remained rooted to my parking spot and listened to the end. Having never heard his voice before I was at once transported into his world and ways of making art. Something he didn’t mention which I heard from Lucian Freud, the only one of the three I have actually met in person who said that he relied on Frank’s opinion as to whether a painting of his was finished or not and that only when it received Frank’s approval was Lucian happy for it to leave the studio. As far as I know the arrangement did not apply in reverse as Frank’s own tried and tested methods of working and rigorous standards were enough by themselves. He is known to scrape down pictures to bare board when they are not working, destroy or even throw them away! Leon Kossoff had a similar approach to quality control often tearing unsuccessful drawing into four pieces and popping them on a skip or in the bin, it’s not uncommon for oils by Auerbach and torn drawings by Kossoff to turn up for sale having been found in skips and rubbish bins near the artists respective North London homes.




Posted in Art and Sculpture, News.