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Frank Auerbach
etchings & drypoints 1954-2006

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Preparatory drawings

For the artist's first two sets of portrait heads ( Six Etchings of Heads 1980-2 and Seven Portraits 1989-90 ) he proceeded by making numerous drawing of the sitter over a period of time. These were usually made in graphite on tracing paper, with graphite scribbled on the back so that the main lines could be transferred onto another piece of paper, or possibly in some cases traced as some slight adumbration onto the plate. The final drawing was made directly onto the etching plate, attempting to encapsulate the result of the previous drawings, but actually observed freshly from life.

For the artist's latest prints he changed his method of using a preparatory drawing. Instead of making a series of preparatory drawings for each, he worked on a single drawing (largely in graphite) over a period of time in many sittings. This drawing was then squared up and the gist of its main lines copied onto a similarly squared-up etching plate of the same size. Auerbach then developed the plate by working directly from the sitter. The unprecedented large size of the plates meant that they could be set on an easel, like a painting.