Frank Auerbach (b. 1931) and Lucian Freud (1922–2011) are among the most prominent exponents of post-war English figurative art. From 16 May to 12 August 2018, the Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings will unite major works by the two artists in a single exhibition for the first time. “Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud: Faces” will present altogether forty drawings and prints, in particular portraits that are among the most uncompromising and most innovative in contemporary art.
The two artists were close friends for nearly four decades, until Lucian Freud’s death. It was not only mutual appreciation for each other’s work that bonded them; they also shared the fate of having been born as sons of Jewish families in Berlin. Already as children, they were compelled to emigrate/flee from Nazi Germany to England. Their works are expressions of very personal vision and experience. And however different their formal approaches, Auerbach and Freud pursued surprisingly similar strategies: for weeks and sometimes years, they observed and portrayed the same people from among their circles of acquaintances. This repetition and limitation served them as means of concentration in the search for insight: into another person, into the self and into the world.
Illustration: Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, 1981 (4th print of the series Six Etchings of Heads), Private collection, Cologne, Photo: Städel Museum, © Frank Auerbach, courtesy Marlborough Fine Art