Dramatically articulated in vibrant primaries of crimson, yellow and blue, Frank Auerbach's J.Y.M. In the Studio is a striking exposition of the painter's wholly inimitable, physically immediate and psychologically urgent figure painting. Executed between 1963-64, this work forcefully asserts an enthusiastic and unbridled treatment of colour uncommon to Auerbach's early career. The ochres and greys that predominate prior to 1962 are herein usurped by a prevailing manipulation of vivid pigment. Indeed, this work encapsulates the consolidation of the artist's success and reputation during the early 1960s. Emerging shortly after an agreement made with the Beaux Arts Gallery that secured the acquisition of all Auerbach's paintings, J.Y.M. In the Studio announces a heightened sense of artistic confidence, to which the energetic and direct use of more luxuriant pigment is tantamount. Closely comparable to another work of the same subject painted at the same time now belonging to the Arts Council Collection, the present work evidences the advancement of an immensely significant alliance between the artist and his longest standing model, Juliet Yardley Mills. A navigation of the brilliant colour and seismic painterly terrain of J.Y.M. In the Studio conjures a remarkably atmospheric evocation of physical presence; at once the bodily portrait and the paint landscape coincide, breaching the boundaries between figuration and the abstract.
Painted across two boards, a practice of extending the composition analogous to that which was employed by his close friend Lucian Freud, J.Y.M. In the Studio broadcasts an intense schema of compositional overload. According to the regimented routine of Auerbach's working method, poses and vantage points differ only slightly from subject to subject. In the case of the present painting, congruent works affirm the delineation of figure versus background here buried under an avalanche of worked and re-worked paint material executed over the course of an entire year. Seated on the habitually recurrent wing-backed chair familiar throughout Auerbach's oeuvre, a delineation of J.Y.M. extends the length of the board, concentrated to the right of the pictorial surface. Predominantly articulated through swathes of opulent crimson, a slanted head and crossed legs are manifest through a scrutiny of thickly-impastoed chromatic description. The substitution of monochrome earth-tones with these saturated hues effects a heightened complexity of pictorial cognition that, combined with a markedly laboured sculptural surface, posit J.Y.M. In the Studio as one of the most complex and visually exciting of Auerbach's illustrious career.
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