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.

Timeline

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

Exhibitions

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)