Leon Kossoff  (British, 1926) 

School of London painter Leon Kossoff (British, b.1926) has maintained the principles of Expressionism he first practiced with David Bomberg (British, 1890-1957), yet has evolved his own personal style over his career. Born in 1926 in Islington, London, Kossoff is known for his expressive portraits and London landscapes. His paintings begin as drawings, and he works rather quickly—completing works within a day. Upon finishing a painting, Kossoff takes some time for contemplation. He keeps new paintings in a small room in his home amongst other older works for up to a few weeks, but before the paint dries completely he decides whether to keep a work or scrape the paint off and start a new painting. Christchurch Spitalfields, Summer (1990)—included in the 1995 Venice Biennale—is exemplary of Kossoff’s atmospheric painterly renderings of London. As for his portraiture, Mother Asleep (1963) is a devastating image of a loved one whose body has been wracked with illness then death. In 2007, the National Gallery in London held an exhibition of Kossoff's work, entitled Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting. He was offered the honor of Commander of British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, but he refused the honor. In 2010, Kossoff exhibited a traveling show of new paintings and drawings, beginning at Annely Juda Fine Art, London, then Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, and ending at L.A. Louver, Los Angeles.

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Leon Kossoff, After Rembrandt


Leon Kossoff
After Rembrandt

James Hyman
Leon Kossoff, King's Cross Stormy Day no. 1


Leon Kossoff
King's Cross Stormy Day no. 1

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, Arnold Circus


Leon Kossoff
Arnold Circus
circa 2008-2010

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, Train by Night no. 1


Leon Kossoff
Train by Night no. 1

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, A Street in Willesden no. 1


Leon Kossoff
A Street in Willesden no. 1

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, Demolition of YMCA building, London, no. 2


Leon Kossoff
Demolition of YMCA building, London, no. 2

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, City Rooftops


Leon Kossoff
City Rooftops

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Leon Kossoff, Arnold Circus


Leon Kossoff
Arnold Circus
circa 2008

Galerie Lelong - Paris
Leon Kossoff, The Letter


Leon Kossoff
The Letter

Nicholas Gallery
Past auction results (299)  View All
Leon Kossoff, Sally (double-sided)


Leon Kossoff
Sally (double-sided), 1986
charcoal and chalk on paper


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Leon Kossoff, Head of George Thompson no. I


Leon Kossoff
Head of George Thompson no. I, 1972
oil on board


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Leon Kossoff, Self portrait


Leon Kossoff
Self portrait, 1956
pastel on paper


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1926   Born in City Road, Islington, London
1938 - 1943   Attended Hackney Downs (Grocers) School, London
1943   Attended life drawing evening classes at Toynbee Hall and St Martin’s School of Art London
1943 - 1945   Commercial Art Course at St Martin’s School of Art, London
1945 - 1948   Military Service with Royal Fusiliers, attached to 2nd Battalion Jewish Brigade, served in Italy, Holland, Belgium, and Germany
1949 - 1953   Studied at St Martin’s School of Art and evening classes at Borough Polytechnic, London, with David Bomberg (1950-52)
1953 - 1956   Studied at Royal College of Art, London
1959 - 1969   Taught at Regent Street Polytechnic, Chelsea School of Art and St Martin’s School of Art, London
  For a portrait of Leon Kossoff at 20 21 Photo Gallery, click here
  Lives and works in London, England
2004   Leon Kossoff - Selected Paintings 1956-2000, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (solo)
2003   Bacon-Freud-Kossoff-Auerbach - Gemälde und Arbeiten auf Papier, Galerie Sander, Berlin, Germany
2001   Leon Kossoff, Annandale Galleries, Sydney, Australia (solo)
2001   Drawn to Painting: Leon Kossoff Drawings and Prints after Nicholas Poussin, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (solo)
2000   Auerbach, Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Blains Fine Art, London
2000   Close Encounters: New Art from Old, National Gallery, London
2000   Poussin Landscapes by Kossoff, J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (solo)
2000   La mirada fuerte: pintura figurativa de Londres, British Council in association with other museums
2000   Drawn to Painting: Leon Kossoff Drawings and Prints after Nicholas Poussin, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2000   Leon Kossoff, Mitchell-Innes & Nash New York, NY (solo)
1998   L'Ecole des Londres de Bacon à Bevan, Foundation Dina Vierny & other locations Paris, Santiago, & Vienna
1996   Leon Kossoff, Tate Gallery London, England (solo)
1995   Leon Kossoff, British Pavilion, Düsseldorf Kunstverein,Stedelijk England, Germany, & Amsterdam (solo)
1995   Identità e Alterità / Identity and Alterity: Figures of the Body 1895-1995, XLVI Venice Internat'l Biennale & other locations Venice, Italy
1995   From London: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, Kitaj, British Council in association with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Musée de l’Etat - Staatsmuseum, Luxembourg; Musée Cantonal de Beaux-Arts, Lausanne; Fundacio Caixa de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
1994   Visual Excitement: een pleidooi voor de schilderkunst (in defence of painting), Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam
1994   Helen Lessore: Artist and Art Dealer, Theo Waddington Fine Art, London
1994   Dobbel Virkelighet / Double Reality, Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst Oslo, Norway
1994   An American Passion: The Susan Kasen Summer and Robert D. Summer Collection of Contemporary British Painting, McLellan Galleries, Glasgow; Royal College of Art, London
1993   Seven British Painters: Selected Masters of Post-War British Art: Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj, Leon Kossoff, Marlborough Fine Art, London
1993   Drawing on these Shores: A View of British Drawing and Its Affinities, Harris Museum and Art Gallery Preston, Ipswich, Bath, & Brighton
1993   Leon Kossoff: Drawings 1985-1992, Anthony d'Offay Gallery & LA Louver Gallery London, England & Venice, CA (solo)
1992   British Figurative Painting of the 20th Century, British Council, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
1991   Freud, Kossoff, Tate Gallery London, England
1988   Leon Kossoff: Recent Paintings, Anthony d'Offay Gallery & Robert Miller Gallery London, England & New York, NY (solo)