Post war British Expressionist Leon Kossoff was born in 1927 just outside of London, England to Russian Jewish parents. He was encouraged as a child to create art. By 1943, he had enrolled in the Saint Martin’s School of Art in London to study commercial art. He completed his studies and joined the Royal Fusiliers and served in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Holland. At the end of WWII, Kossoff returned to London to take more classes at St. Martin’s and then continued at Borough Polytechnic.
Influenced by his instructors David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach, he began using a heavy painting technique known as impasto. Earlier works have earthy colors, but his color pallet got brighter throughout his career. His subject matter revolves around urban scenes from familiar London. He is also known for his figurative paintings. Subjects are frequently his family and friends. Kossoff’s paintings and portraits are known to be very intense and full of emotion.
A retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Gallery in London in 1996 showcasing paintings from all phases of his lifetime. In the last decade, “Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting” was held at the National Gallery in London in 2007.