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Frank Auerbach

Speaking and Painting

Catherine Lampert

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A uniquely intimate look at the life and work of one of Europe’s leading painters by an expert on contemporary art who has also sat for him for nearly forty years


Born in Berlin in 1931 to Jewish parents, the eight-year-old Auerbach was sent to England in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime. His parents stayed behind and died in a concentration camp in 1943. Now in his eighties, Auerbach is still producing his distinctly sculptural paintings of friends, family and surroundings in north London, where he has made his home since the war. The art historian and curator Catherine Lampert has had unique access to the artist since 1978 when she first became one of his sitters. With an emphasis on Auerbach’s own words, culled from her conversations with him and archival interviews, she provides a rare insight into his professional life, working methods and philosophy. Auerbach also reflects on the places, people and inspirations that have shaped his life. These include his experiences as a refugee child, finding his way in the London art world of the 1950s and 1960s, his friendships with Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Leon Kossoff, among many others, and his approaches to looking and painting throughout his career. For anyone interested in how an artist approaches his craft or his method of capturing reality this is essential reading.


'One of the truest books on painters and paintings I have ever read'
Daily Telegraph

'A gripping, sensitive portrait, close to biography but brighter and livelier than straightforward narrative in conveying the rhythms of Auerbach’s paintings, life and thought'
Financial Times, Art Books of the Year

'A beautiful object, full of superb reproductions and photos … a terrific read … it only leaves you longing for more'

'Reading this book subtly raises one’s awareness of his imagery, sharpening one’s excitement at the prospect of seeing the whole trajectory of his art'
Literary Review

'A necessity for all Auerbach’s admirers, for it contains much fresh and vivid detail about his life and work'
Art Quarterly

'A rare chance to listen to the lovely and self-deprecating wisdom of painter Frank Auerbach'

'Lampert has turned her long experience of the artist to good purpose: this is an enjoyable and informative book'
Art Newspaper

'A hugely enjoyable portrait of one of our leading figurative painters'

'A fascinating and thorough portrait of a major and internationally renowned figure as seen through his eyes'
The Artist

'Catherine Lampert describes it [the true path of the artist], often using Auerbach’s own words, with a deftness and sympathy that will make this the standard work for many years to come'
Martin Gayford, World of Interiors

'A well-illustrated, comprehensive monograph on a great artist'
Colm Tóibín, Guardian

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 22.9 x 15.2 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Publication date: 16 May 2019

ISBN: 9780500293997

Contents List

Preface • 1. Finding a Home in England • 2. Forging a Reputation • 3. ‘Painting is My Form of Action’ • 4. The Best Game • 5. Idiom and Subject • Conclusion

About the Author

Catherine Lampert, former director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery (1988–2001), has edited and contributed to numerous catalogues and books on contemporary artists over the years. She is now Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts, London.