The author Catherine Lampert has had a long association and friendship with the
artist Frank Auerbach and has been the subject of many of his paintings and drawings.
This experience has clearly been invaluable in completing this absorbing monograph.
Mr Auerbach will be 86 years old in April and continues to paint pretty much every day
of the year in his Camden studios. The art critic Brian Sewell was rather unkind on a
number of occasions in his comments about the work, promulgating a view that the
artist’s technique has shown little sign of development historically and that his somewhat
obsessive and repetitive approach to his subjects is an indication of creative limitations.
Although there is some truth in this notion with regard to some of the more recent paintings
(the drawings and studies, however, remain vibrant in my opinion) it is important to take
a long view with regard to his output over time. Familiarity with a relatively circumscribed
number of locations (for landscapes) and people (for portraits) has let to extraordinary
re-tellings of familiar pictorial narratives. Repetition in this instance I believe to be a strength.
The book manages to be both scholarly and interesting in equal measure. Well-illustrated and
littered with fascinating conversations with the artist, ‘Frank Auerbach : Speaking and Painting’
delivers an insightful and invaluable account of his thoughts about motivation and process.
As an admirer for almost five decades I cannot help but think that his was (is!) a life well-spent.
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