Friday, 16 September 2011

Painters Framing Their World

I was lucky enough to visit the highly acclaimed Frank Auerbach show at the Courtauld Gallery in London two years ago.

The exhibition displayed Auerbach's paintings and drawings of London building sites from 1952 to 1962.  This was a period in history when central London was being hastily rebuilt, following the devastation of World War Two.  Auerbach spent the ten years between 1952 and 1962 sketching on the building sites, quickly capturing his reactions to the construction taking place.  In the drawing below you can see how Auerbach was thinking of using bold lines of perspective to FRAME VIEWS and lead the spectator into his painting.  The resulting works are a WINDOW onto a world of large mechanical construction sites.

Study for Shell Building Site from the Festival Hall

Many of the paintings and drawings are dominated by the thick lines you see above, portraying the huge building girders that make up the frame of a modern building.  Cranes are also used as FRAMING devises in many of the paintings and drawings, their legs once again portrayed in thickly rendered lines.

Shell Building Site from the Thames

In other works (like the one above) Auerbach conveys the devastation to the earth using light, colour and texture to document the vast holes that are cut into the ground.  Here the PICTURE PLANE is used to frame areas of earth at the sides and the vast spaces below.  Auerbach used IMPASTO oil paint (thick areas of undiluted paint) to build up areas to create more depth to the painting.  The whole effect draws the viewer into looking beyond the frame, into the painting and then onto areas the artist wanted the viewer to focus on.

Have a look at these videos, explaining the work and Auerbach talking about the work himself.

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