Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads

Charcoal drawing of a man, Frank Auerbach, sitting slightly side-on to the viewer and staring at us with a stern expression. The background is roughly completed, and the face somewhat fragmented by the background. i Frank Auerbach (b.1931), Self-Portrait, 1958, Charcoal and chalk on paper © the artist, courtesy of Frankie Rossi Art Projects, London.

9 Feb – 27 May 2024 
Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries

A remarkable series of hauntingly beautiful, large-scale drawings by Frank Auerbach (born 1931), will be presented together for the first time at The Courtauld Gallery in Spring 2024.

During his early years as a young artist in post-war London, Frank Auerbach produced one of his most remarkable bodies of work: a series of large-scale portrait heads made in charcoal. Auerbach spent months on each drawing, working and reworking them during numerous sessions with his sitters.

The marks of this prolonged and vigorous process of creation are evident in the finished drawings, which are richly textured and layered. Sometimes, he would even break through the paper and patch it up before carrying on. Auerbach’s heads emerge from the darkness of the charcoal as vital and alive, having come through a lengthy period of struggle – the image repeatedly created and destroyed. The character of the drawings speaks profoundly of their times as people were remaking their lives after the destructions and upending of war.

Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads will be the first time Auerbach’s extraordinary post-war drawings, made in the 1950s and early 1960s, have been brought together as a comprehensive group. They will be shown together with a selection of paintings he made of the same sitters; for him, painting and drawing have always been deeply entwined.

The exhibition will be a unique opportunity to see early masterpieces by one of the world’s most celebrated living artists.

Supported by the Huo Family Foundation and The Garcia Family Foundation.

Tickets for Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads go on sale later this yearSign up to The Courtauld Gallery newsletter to find out about our latest announcements, exhibitions, events and more.

9 February – 27 May 2024

10.00 – 18.00 (last entry 17.15)

The Courtauld Gallery  The Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries 
Charcoal drawing of a man, Frank Auerbach, sitting slightly side-on to the viewer and staring at us with a stern expression. The background is roughly completed, and the face somewhat fragmented by the background.
Frank Auerbach (b.1931), Self-Portrait, 1958, Charcoal and chalk on paper © the artist, courtesy of Frankie Rossi Art Projects, London.

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