Biography of Leon Kossoff
Born in Islington, London, in 1926, Leon Kossoff is one of Britain’s most prestigious living artists, and, though he was offered the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, he chose to decline it. Kossoff employs a distinct and heavy impasto technique to his paintings, and alongside his drawings and limited editions is today still producing an extraordinarily emotive body of work.
The son of Russian-Jewish parents Leon Kossoff was evacuated to King’s Lynn during the Second World War which was where he was first encouraged to develop his interest in art. On his return to London in 1943, Kossoff would study commercial art at St Martin’s School of Art. Great friends with Frank Auerbach, who also had a significant influence on his work and subject matter, the two were characterized by their impasto painting technique. The denseness of the paint could almost be described as having sculptural elements and the overpainting and scraping that is enacted by Kossoff reflects a quest to encapsulate intense feeling and energy.
The painter’s style and technique remained remarkably consistent throughout his life and he preferred to feature family members and close-friends in his work. Many of his nudes are of his wife, Rosalind or of his long-term model, Fidelma. He often focused on urban landscapes and railway bridges, churches, and other significant buildings recur throughout his work.
In 1966 Leon Kossoff moved his studio to Willesden Green where he still lives and works today. In 2007 the exhibition “Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting” opened at the National Gallery in London—a huge honor for a living artist. Regularly exhibiting his new works internationally, Kossoff exhibited works in Los Angeles, New York and London in 2010. In 2013 his urban London landscapes were collected and travelled from London then on to Los Angeles and finally to Paris. His body of work is widely appreciated around the world and his work can be found in many prominent international art collections.