Frank Auerbach’s work is primarily figurative with a very expressive use of paint. His early career was heavily influenced by David Bomberg, who encouraged him to develop a strong identification with his artistic subjects. As a result Auerbach’s subjects rarely change. In fact he has only used three models in his entire career, his wife Julia, the professional model Juliet Yardley Mills and his friend Stella West.
Auerbach’s work might broadly be termed expressionist, although much of his work carries expressionist techniques to extreme lengths. Many of his paintings make use of extremely thick impasto, something which he was criticised for in his first solo exhibition.
Auerbach layers paint in a repetitive process involving brushing and scraping. This layering is at times so heavy that the paint appears to have been sculpted rather than brushed on.
Auerbach continues to be a leading figure in British art, and still devotes his life to his work, spending nearly 70 hours a week painting in his studio.
Listen to students' responses to Auerbach's paintings - see Audio links below.
“I think I’ve been trying to do the same thing all my life in different ways. It’s trying to find the essential painting. A new, raw, exciting and unpredictable invention. One which stands absolutely and conventionally for something.”