Between the postwar years and the 1980s in Britain, and in particular in London, a number of figurative painters simultaneously reinvented the way in which life is represented in art. Focusing on the depiction of the human figure, these artists rendered the frailty and vitality of the human condition.
Offering a fresh account of developments that have since characterized postwar British painting, this catalogue focuses on Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, R. B. Kitaj, and Leon Kossoff— artists who worked in close proximity as they were developing new forms of realism. If for many years their efforts seemed to clash with dominant tendencies, reassessment in recent decades has afforded their work a central position in a richer and more complex understanding of postwar British art and culture.
Rigorous and gorgeously illustrated, the essays reflect on the parallel yet diverse trajectories of these artists, their friendships and mutual admiration, and the divergence of their practice from the discourse of high modernism. The authors seek to dispel the notion of their work as a uniquely British endeavor by highlighting the artists’ international outlook and ongoing dialogue with contemporary European and American painters as well as masters from previous generations.
This book is published to coincide with an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum from July 26 through November 13, 2016.
Elena Crippa is curator of modern and contemporary British art at Tate Britain. Catherine Lampert is an independent curator and art historian.
136 pages 9 x 11 inches 104 color illustrations ISBN 978-1-60606-484-9 hardcover