Leon Kossoff was born in Islington, London in 1926, living and working in the city until his death in 2019.
In 1943, after returning to London following evacuation during the Second World War, Leon Kossoff obtained a place at the Saint Martin’s School of Art; somewhat interrupted by National Service, he was to return in 1949, supplementing his course by taking part time classes at Borough Polytechnic under the tutelage of David Bomberg. It was at these studies that Leon was to meet and befriend a young Frank Auerbach. Both artists were to be heavily influenced by Bomberg and undoubtedly in some ways, each other.
Kossoff studied at the Royal College of Art from 1953 to 1956, and it was upon graduation that, again as with Auerbach, Kossoff was nurtured by Helen Lessore at her Beaux Arts Gallery in London, arguably one of the most important commercial sites of young artistic talent in the mid part of the twentieth century. He began teaching art at Chelsea School of Art and Saint Martin’s School of Art and was to befriend and spend time with other emerging talents of the British art scene, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Keith Critchlow.
As with Auerbach, Leon Kossoff’s work is typified with studies of the human form and the area of north London where he lives and works. His use of heavy impasto in painting and strong, powerful lines in his charcoal portraiture are instantly recognisable.
Regarded as one of the true talents to emerge in Britain during the twentieth century, Leon Kossoff kived and worked in north London until his death in 2019. Major exhibitions have been held, such as in 2007 at the National Gallery in London and his work is held in many of the world’s most respected public and private collections.