Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud. Reproduction by permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Exhibition preview: Frank Auerbach – Etchings and Drypoints 1954-2007 at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, until June 21 2008.
'On first acquaintance his work, to some, can seem obscure, even crude or unreadable. But it is worth getting to know. Almost subliminal, its power and strength of feeling is striking, arresting and ultimately beautiful.'
So is the work of Frank Auerbach (b.1931) described by the organisers of the new exhibition at Abbot Hall, Kendall. A good description to bear in mind it is, too.
The new exhibition features a comprehensive survey of Auerbach's etchings and drypoints, together with drawings spanning his career and a selection of works from Abbot Hall's collection.
Portraits drawn with spare lines in frenetic jagged lines sit alongside faces that emerge from heavily greyed out heads in this display, some depicting famous names such as Lucian Freud (another living art legend), others titled just with first names, giving them a personal tone.
In his whole 60-year career, Auerbach has made fewer than 40 etchings and drypoints. The exhibition is the first to display the whole of this print output since 1990 – since when Auerbach has produced more assured and larger works on a par with his painting.
Frank Auerbach, Jake. Reproduction by permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The show begins with early experimental drypoints produced while the artist was still a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1950s. From here, it reaches a climax in his latest etching and aquatint of David Landau (2007).
Auerbach has recently gifted an artist's proof of the new work to Abbot Hall, where it joins another of his works in the collection there (a painting, 'JYM in the Studio', 1965).
Frankie Rossi, Director of Marlborough Graphics, which showed the last exhibition of Auerbach's printmaking, said: "This is a unique chance to see all of Auerbach's prints together, which isn't something that is likely to be repeated."
"It is an intimate collection and is a good starting point for people who are not familiar with printing.While painting is Auerbach's primary medium he likes the challenge of printing and his early prints of nudes are very rare."
"People familiar with the figures in his paintings will recognise the subjects of his portrait prints."
The exhibition is curated by Craig Hartley, Senior Assistant Keeper of Prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
A lecture by critic and curator William Feaver, who has sat weekly for Auerbach for some years, will take place on Thursday May 15 2008.
Abbot Hall has recently waived its entry fee for under-18s and under-25s in full-time education.
This is an exhibition preview. If you've been to see the show, why not let us know what you think?