Bacon, Freud and the Painting of the School of London

Building A - 9 October 2018 - 13 January 2019

The exhibition displaying almost ninety paintings is devoted to the most important artists of the School of London – Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and Leon Kossoff – while reviewing the events that led up to the emergence of the trend and showing its influence on contemporary British painting. Hence, visitors are familiarised with the history of one of the most important strains of British figurative painting spanning from the early twentieth century to the present day. The material showcased in Budapest includes loans from private and public collections in Europe and overseas, while a cluster of landmark masterpieces will be borrowed from Tate Britain in London.

This first Hungarian exhibition about the art of the School of London celebrates the best-known exponents of the trend and introduces visitors to the dialogues on the London art scene in the second half of the twentieth century through the art of Michael Andrews, R. B. Kitaj, Paula Rego, F. N. Souza, and Euan Uglow. The exhibition bears witness to the surviving traditions of representational painting: the works take everyday life as their subject matter, and are exemplars of a human-centric, expressive approach to painting. The focal object of the paintings is often the human figure, the modelling of the body. An understanding of the artists’ experiments with the material of paint itself and how this resulted in the tangibly sensory and material nature of the painted surface provides one of the keys to interpreting the works on show. Crossing geographic boundaries, the exhibition takes a look at precedents and parallels of the expressive modelling of materials and figures through works by Alberto Giacometti and Chaïm Soutine but it places the art of the chief painters of the School of London primarily in the context of the local artistic traditions, presenting some important works by the most influential British artists, including Walter Richard Sickert, David Bomberg, Stanley Spencer, and William Coldstream.

The timeless questions of materiality and sensuality in painting have lost none of their currency. While the impending death of painting was announced several times during the twentieth century, the classic approach to the genre embodied by the School of London lives on in the art of successive generations, for example in the figurative painting of Cecily Brown and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, sustaining the traditions associated with the School of London.

Similarly to the Museum of Fine Arts’ highly successful Turner and Italy in 2010, the present exhibition was also organised in cooperation with Tate Britain. The Hungarian public is treated, for the first time, to an exceptionally rich selection of the painting of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and the School of London with highlighted masterpieces representing each artist. The exhibition raises some important issues that not only relate to the recent history of painting but also concern its contemporary and future status, thus inviting a different way of thinking about the history, recent past, and present of Hungary’s (figurative) painting.


Curator of the exhibition: Elena Crippa, Tate Britain, London
Co-curator of the Budapest exhibition: Dávid Fehér, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

The exhibition is accompanied by a Hungarian and English language catalogue.

We kindly inform our visitors that taking videos and photographs is not permitted in the exhibition.

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