The Griffin Catalyst Exhibition

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, private collection © 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), is being presented together for the first time at The Courtauld Gallery.

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.

The Griffin Catalyst Exhibition: 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.

Tickets from £14. Includes entry to the permanent collection and displays.
Friends go free. Other concessions available.

9 Feb – 27 May 2024

10.00 – 18.00 (last entry 17.15)

The Courtauld Gallery  The Denise Coates Exhibition Galleries 

Tickets from £14. Includes entry to the permanent collection.

Title Partner

Supported by Kenneth C. Griffin, The Huo Family Foundation and The Garcia Family Foundation

With additional support from The Rothschild Foundation

★★★★★

“Incredible.”

Time Out

★★★★★

The i

★★★★

“One epic experience.”

The Independent

★★★★

“Thrillingly alive.”

The Guardian

★★★★

“Arresting.”

Evening Standard

★★★★

The Telegraph

★★★★

The Times

Limited edition print

Frank Auerbach, Sketch for ‘Mornington Terrace, 2015–16

Exclusive to The Courtauld, this limited edition print has been developed in partnership with Frank Auerbach, to celebrate his landmark exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery.

One of an edition of 200 plus 5 artist’s proofs. Each print has been hand signed and numbered by the artist and is presented in a handmade portfolio with a certificate of authenticity. All proceeds from the print will support The Courtauld.

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Frank Auerbach, Sketch for ‘Mornington Terrace’, 2015–16, © the artist i Frank Auerbach, Sketch for ‘Mornington Terrace’, 2015–16, © the artist

Buy the catalogue

The catalogue accompanying The Griffin Catalyst Exhibition: Frank Auerbach. The Charcoal Heads is now available to purchase from The Courtauld Shop.

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The Courtauld Lates: Frank Auerbach

Fri 24 May 2024, 18:30 – 22:30

Enjoy an evening of world-class art, cocktails and music surrounded by The Courtauld’s collection of masterpieces. Join us for a last chance to see Frank Auerbach – The Charcoal Heads after hours, plus live DJ’s and more.

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i Somerset House exterior © Rory Lindsay

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