Frank Auerbach, “Summer Building Site,” 1952, Via NYTimes. For Auerbach, building sites became pictorial motifs.
Currently showing at Courtauld Gallery in London is an exhibition of paintings and sketches by German-born British artist Frank Auerbach. The work captures London’s wounded infrastructure after World War II and the rebuilding that went on throughout the city from the 1950’s into the early 60’s. Fascinated by scenes of deconstructed materials and bomb sites in the aftermath of the war– which destroyed some 80,000 buildings in the city– Auerbach documented London’s physical recovery through sketches and paintings that he reworked for months at a time, creating built-up, painted surfaces of over an inch. The exhibition brings the complete series of fourteen building site paintings together along with several, rarely seen oil sketches. The collection stands as some of the most significant painting in post-war Britain, representing a profound response to the wounded, post-war landscape. Ladders, cranes, scaffolding, steel frames–all wonders of construction sites and symbols of modernity–provided Auerbach with a plethora of lines to work with, and they materialize through his paintings into abstract and highly tangible structures that emphasize chaos.
“Construction of One New Change Street,” behind St Paul’s Cathedral in 1965, Via NYTimes
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