Leon Kossoff b. 1926


Private Collection, acquired directly from the artist
Private Collection, 1989
Private Collection, 1998
Private Collection, Europe


2019, London, Piano Nobile, Leon Kossoff: A London Life, 1 March - 22 May 2019, cat. no. 9


Andrew Dempsey, Lulu Norman and Jackie Wullschlager, Leon Kossoff: A London Life, Piano Nobile, 2019, pp. 58-9 (col. illus.)
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Leon Kossoff's oil paintings:
Andrea Rose, ed., Leon Kossoff: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Modern Art Press
Kossoff has been depicting himself since the beginning of his career. As with his friends and close members of his family, his own image is familiar and pliable. Indeed, in Kossoff’s practise, this familiarity provides the compulsion which is required to make an image. The image follows the same format in which Kossoff has often treated his other portrait subjects. The closely cropped image of an individual head relates to a number of contemporary portraits of George Thompson, a friend and student of Kossoff’s.

This specific painting belongs to an important series of self-portraits from the late 1960s and the early 1970s. The first of these was exhibited at Kossoff’s one-man exhibition held at Marlborough Fine Art in 1968. Several more were exhibited in 1972, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition of his recent work. Contemporary photographs from 1972, taken by Bob Collins, show that Kossoff wore a beard at this time. This is clearly registered in the group of self-portraits, including this work. The close-cropped facial hair gives his face structure, giving the artist a cultured, striking appearance.