new-york

Frank Auerbach

Marlborough Gallery | New York

There’s not much left of mimesis in Frank Auerbach’s new paintings and drawings. Where previously there was a balance—however uneasy—between the picture (usually a portrait or a London street scene) and the gestural handling that gave it dramatic substance, the new work tilts—almost, it seems, irreversibly—toward gesture. The medium—and its handling—seems to be the message here. The particularity of the people and places identified by the pictures’ titles seems to have been sacrificed to the particularity of touch. But the paint has personality—Auerbach’s personality. One recalls Dostoyevsky’s remark: “The painter seeks the moment when the model looks most like himself” (“himself” being the artist, not the model). “The portraitist’s gift lies in the ability to spot this moment and hang on to it.” Auerbach’s paintings and drawings are self-portraits in principle if not in appearance: They

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