Frank Helmut Auerbach (born 29 April 1931) is a German-born British painter. His work typically portrays either one of a small group of mainly female models, or scenes around London.
His work might broadly be described as expressionist. Many of his paintings display an extremely thick impasto, something which he was criticised for at his 1956 Beaux Arts solo show, where some of the paintings were displayed flat rather than hanging, for fear that the paint would fall off from its own weight. The impasto, which grew even heavier over the next decade (but later decreased, as he began scraping down his paintings more as he worked), is sometimes so heavy that the paint seems to have been sculpted rather than brushed on.
Auerbach does not prepare underpaintings, nor does he use outline sketches for portraits, and he relies on his sitters being able to reassume the same pose session after session. In contrast, he sketches landscapes in the field and brings the sketches back to the studio, sometimes using as many as 200 sketches for a single painting.
The first major retrospective of Auerbach's work was presented in 1978 by the Arts Council of Great Britain for the Hayward Gallery, London, and then toured to the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh. Other major shows have included "Frank Auerbach: Paintings and Drawings 1977–85" at the British Pavilion at the XLII Venice Biennale (1986), where he shared the Golden Lion prize with Sigmar Polke; "Frank Auerbach at the National Gallery: Working after the Masters" (1995), at the National Gallery, London, presented drawings made over a thirty-year period from paintings in the National Gallery's collection; a major retrospective at the London's Royal Academy in 2001. Many of his works are in the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery.