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Gagosian – Friends and Relations

17 November 2022 to 28 January 2023 Gagosian

Group portrait of painters (left to right) Timothy Behrens, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Michael Andrews at Wheelers Restaurant in Soho, London, 1963, John Deakin / John Deakin Archive / Bridgeman Image
Gagosian is pleased to announce Friends and Relations: Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, opening on November 17 at the gallery’s Grosvenor Hill location in London. Taking as its inspiration a famous John Deakin photograph from 1963 that shows the four painters in Soho, the exhibition includes some of the artists’ portraits of each other, elucidating the connections between their respective practices.

Curated by art historian Richard Calvocoressi, Friends and Relations contextualizes key works by four era-defining artists. Featuring about forty paintings from private and public collections, it positions Freud—in the centenary year of his birth—as the grouping’s central figure. Each painter was aware of the others’ practice, to the extent of occasionally competing with one another, but of the four, Freud alone collected his friends’ work. At his death, he owned fifteen paintings and a large number of works on paper by Frank Auerbach. The exhibition includes two portraits by Auerbach formerly in Freud’s collection, on loan from British museums.

Portraiture was at the heart of Freud’s, Bacon’s, Auerbach’s, and, less directly, Andrews’s practices. The exhibition’s title echoes not only the four artists’ camaraderie and interrelationships, but also the intimate relationships between artist and sitter. The intense friendship between Freud and Bacon is commemorated in the latter’s Three Studies for Portraits: Isabel Rawsthorne, Lucian Freud and J.H. (1966), in which Freud’s head is paired with those of John Hewitt, a dealer in antiquities and ethnographic art, and Rawsthorne, a close friend and fellow artist whom Bacon represented in many other paintings. Another highlight is Portrait of a Man Walking Down Steps (1972), a tribute by Bacon to his lover George Dyer, who committed suicide the previous year, the day before the opening of the artist’s 1971 retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris.

A selection of Auerbach’s work includes E.O.W., S.A.W. and J.J.W. in the Garden I (1963), a full-length portrait of his lover and frequent model, Stella West, and her family outdoors. Also included is Head of Gerda Boehm (1964), which depicts Auerbach’s much older cousin, who was, like him, a refugee from Nazi Germany.

Andrews’s ambitious group portrait The Colony Room I (1962) is set in Soho’s storied drinking club, it pictures Andrews’s own mural in the background, with the figures of Freud, Bacon, Bernard, artist’s model Henrietta Moraes, and the club’s proprietor, Muriel Belcher, identifiable in the foreground. Melanie and Me Swimming (1978–79), loaned to the exhibition by the Tate, depicts the artist teaching his daughter to swim in a river in Scotland.

Also on view at Grosvenor Hill will be a selection of photographs of the four artists by their friend, the distinguished picture editor, writer, and photographer, Bruce Bernard (1928–2000). Complementing the paintings in Friends and Relations, Bernard’s portraits of the artists in their studios—some of which are exhibited publicly for the first time—are both direct and informal.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue including installation views of the show and featuring essays essays by Martin Gayford and Florence Hallett, and an interview with Frank Auerbach by Richard Calvocoressi.

Further Information: Friends and Relations: Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews