拍品 18
  • 18

弗蘭克·奧爾巴赫

估價
500,000 - 700,000 GBP
已售出
992,750 GBP
招標截止

描述

  • Frank Auerbach
  • 《格爾達·貝姆頭像》
  • 款識:藝術家簽名、書題目並紀年1964-5(背面)
  • 油彩紙本畫板
  • 79.7 x 59.1公分;31 3/8 x 23 1/4英寸

來源

Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London

Private Collection

Sotheby’s, New York, 30 April 1991, Lot 1 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

展覽

Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Englische Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, Malerei und Plastik, May - August 1987, n.p., illustrated

出版

William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, p. 259, no. 202, illustrated in colour

拍品資料及來源

Painted between 1964 and 1965 the present work depicts Frank Auerbach’s elder cousin Gerda Boehm. Related to the artist from his father’s side, Gerda first appears in Auerbach’s oeuvre in the form of a charcoal drawing from 1961 and thus joins the roll-call of formative and stalwart early sitters that also includes Estella Olive West (E.O.W), Leon Kossoff, Helen Gillespie, and Juliet Yardley Mills (J.Y.M). Over the next twenty years Gerda would become the subject of 39 extant works in oil and charcoal on paper, canvas, and board. Of this number the present work is the largest example and sits squarely next to Head of Gerda Boehm from 1965; a painting previously in the collection of David Bowie that shares the same colour palette and three-quarter turn pose. Indeed, the works depicting Gerda Boehm are among the most captivating of Auerbach's ouevre - that the auction record for a work on paper and a painting by Auerbach are both held by pictures of this subject is testament to the fact. The portraits of Boehm are elegant pictorial records in which her typically downwards gaze and delicate features are balanced by the dramatic architecture of her hair and neckline; a pictorial effect wonderfully demonstrated in the present work. Painted on both paper and board, this portrait masterfully combines the heavily worked graphic style of Auerbach’s charcoal drawings with the viscous fluidity of his oil on board studies. Dense with immediacy yet tenderly toiled over, Head of Gerda Boehm epitomises the exquisite contradiction of Auerbach’s best work in which the urgency of presence belies the arduousness of process.

Like Auerbach, Gerda Boehm emmigrated to London from Germany in 1938. However where the young artist was only 8 years old at the time and was sent directly to boarding school at Bunce Court in Kent, Gerda was much older. Along with her husband – Gerhard Boehm – Gerda lived in North London, and it was there that, towards the end of the war, the young artist would spend the school summer holidays. Having spent his time buried in books borrowed from the Keats Grove library in Hampstead, Auerbach remembers these short periods as being “very beneficial to me because I led this extraordinarily cloistered life at a Quaker boarding school in the country… there were certain conventions and we seemed to be different from the rest of the world and had never quite caught up with the twentieth century… certainly Gerda Boehm and her husband were very much the opposite of that” (Frank Auerbach quoted in: Catherine Lampert, Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting, London 2015, p. 79). He recalls that Gerda had “an appetite for going out” and that her upbringing in Berlin had imparted a “desire to dress well and cut a figure in the world” (Ibid.). For a child who had arrived in England without his parents (who later died at Auschwitz), Gerda was one of the only blood relatives with whom the young Auerbach had any contact. They remained close and even took a trip to Paris together in 1948 to visit the city’s museums and galleries. It was this familiarity that proved indispensable when in 1961 Gerda agreed to sit for her first portrait: “having seen her over the years”, Auerbach described, “I had this head start” (Ibid., p. 100). As an artist of the human subject, Auerbach’s method requires an intimate knowledge, not only of his sitter’s physiognomy, but also their temperament and personality. The very essence of this connection comes across in the swiftness and deftness with which Auerbach has coaxed out and moulded Gerda Boehm’s likeness.

Red and blue touches of pigment punctuate an otherwise monochrome composition, while stippled peaks of white paint protrude and sit upon exigent grey marks that have been driven and pushed into the work’s surface. Atop the image however and undoubtedly rendered in the final moments of the work’s execution, bold zig-zags and daubs of black bring into focus the ultimate structure of Gerda Boehm’s likeness. This is typical of Auerbach’s approach to painting on paper as described by Catherine Lampert: “When Auerbach works in oil on paper he introduces strong black contour lines, hinting at something sculptural, as if wet, malleable pigment might be underpinned by aggressively rendered marks” (Catherine Lampert, ibid.,  p. 87). Head of Gerda Boehm certainly possesses the "something sculptural" of Lampert’s description. Paint takes on a pliable quality here; it divulges the gradual build-up and performativity of the artist’s working method. Such head and shoulders portraits thus embody a painterly riposte to the late bronzes of Alberto Giacometti. During the 1940s the Paris-based Giacometti shifted to focus solely on the isolated human form. He began working in an elongated manner, gouging and removing sculptural matter to create skeletal figures and heavily worked portrait busts that convey intense energy and urgency. Akin to the elder artist – whom he met in 1965 – Auerbach spent his career working from the live model and wrestling with medium to convey the reality of human presence in form and volume. Inverting Giacometti’s reductive aesthetic strategy however, Auerbach’s practice is one of sculptural accumulation in paint.

It is worth noting that the present work signals a development away from the densely packed and coagulated mounds of oil particular to the 1950s and early 60s paintings. Indeed, the works from the mid-1960s onwards begin to deploy a more assured and swift gestural facility that is countered by a palimpsest-like back catalogue of incessant erasure and subsequent re-working. Such technical developments coincided with the first wave of major critical acclaim for Auerbach; indeed, the present work arrived at the beginning of the artist’s long-standing relationship with Marlborough Fine Art and coincided with the first institutional acquisitions of his work (Tate and the Arts Council, London). Denoting a moment of both critical and technical ascension, Head of Gerda Boehm is an imposing painterly record of presence and familiarity.

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