(Berlin Born 1931)
Drawing for Mornington Crescent
234 x 346 mm. (9 1/4 x 13 5/8 in.)
In its composition, the present sheet relates most closely to a painting of Mornington Crescent of 1969, in a private collection. Mornington Crescent is a curving Georgian terrace, north of Euston Station, where Walter Sickert (one of Auerbach’s artistic heroes) once had a studio. In 1954 Auerbach took over Leon Kossoff’s studio near Mornington Crescent, and he has lived and worked there ever since, for over sixty years.
Recently asked if he consciously searches for new landscape compositions around his studio in Camden Town, the artist replied ‘Sometimes when I finish a picture, I just wander around with a sketchbook and ideas and some of them I don’t like. Then I find something that seems attractive...It was very different at the beginning. I was looking for compositions. I know I was. The drawings I did for early paintings seem to me to have a composition, and now...I very much look for things that are not compositions at all, that don’t seem like art. I see whether I can try and paint them, something that for some reason or other is not a fitting material for any particular sort of picture but a piece of undigested reality. I try to find a way of making something of it.’
As Auerbach has stated, in a 1986 interview, ‘It’s the job of painting to capture the wild element in life that hasn’t yet been captured. This is why I paint London because it seems to me that this amazing city, immensely full of chaos and suggestiveness and an atmosphere of its own has largely been painted by visitors, by Monet, Pissarro, Kokoschka, Derain and Doré. The city is full of painters but it’s only been nibbled at. I haven’t painted London to ally myself with some Camden Town Group but simply because I feel London is this raw thing that hasn’t been painted, and for what I feel about London. This extraordinary, marvellously unpainted city where wherever somebody tries to get something going they stop halfway through, and next to it something incongruous occurs...Since London will never be Paris anyway, we might as well get it as rich and varied as we can, this higgledy-piggledy mess of a city.'