Leon Kossoff - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    LA Louver Gallery, Los Angeles
    Sidney Copilow Client Trust (acquired from the above in 1979)
    LA Louver Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    London, Fischer Fine Art Limited, Leon Kossoff, Paintings and Drawings 1974 - 1979, May - June 1979, no. 3, p. 17 (illustrated, titled Dalston Lane, Summer Day No. 2)
    Venice CA, LA Louver Gallery, The Knot of Life: Paintings and Drawings by British Artists (Part II), 27 November - 22 December 1979 (illustrated, titled Dalston Lane, Summer Day No. 2)
    London, Tate Gallery, Leon Kossoff, 6 June - 1 September 1996, no. 36, pp. 95, 165 (illustrated, p. 95)
    New York, Acquavella Galleries, Masterworks from Degas to Rosenquist, 6 February - 6 April 2012, no. 30 (illustrated, oil on canvas)
    New York, Ordovas Gallery, London Painters, 3 November 2017 - 18 January 2018, pp. 66-67, 85 (illustrated, pp. 67, 85)

  • Literature

    Robert Pincus-Witten, ‘Contemporizing the Figure: This Knot of Life’, Artweek, vol. 10, no. 42, 15 December 1979, p. 16 (illustrated)
    Marina Vaizey, ‘Leon Kossoff’, Art International, vol. 23, no. 5-6, September 1979, pp. 103–8 (illustrated)
    Iain Sinclair, Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire, London, 2009, p. 221
    William Davie, 'London Painters', Wall Street International Magazine, 19 April 2018, online

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘London, like the paint I use, seems to be in my bloodstream. It’s always moving – the skies, the streets, the buildings. The people who walk past me when I draw have become part of my life.’ (Leon Kossoff, quoted in Paul Moorhouse, Leon Kossoff, exh.cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1996, p. 36).

    An adroit rendering of Leon Kossoff’s view from his studio window, Stormy Summer Day, Dalston Lane, 1975, exemplifies the artist’s continued depiction of London's soul, dexterously carried out over the course of seven decades. Coalescing muted tones, energetic dabs, and angular lines, the painting epitomises Kossoff’s favoured theme with unmatched verve, capturing London’s unique architecture and grisaille light whilst imparting the odd buildings and lamp posts with hints of gleaming colour. Having left London only twice in his life, once as an evacuee, and a second time during his military service from 1945 to 1948, Kossoff formed an attachment to his native city that penetrates the very core of his work. Exemplifying the touching proximity existing between the artist and his almost talismanic subject of choice, Stormy Summer Day, Dalston Lane was notably included in his major retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1996.

    Consumed by the streets, subway stations, and monuments adorning his revered city, it was not London’s cosmopolitan edge or perceived glamour that appealed to Kossoff, but rather its ageing fabrics, overlooked vistas, and everyday scenes. Echoing Walter Sickert’s compositions, which famously shed light on the discreet lives of Londoners in the first half of the twentieth century, Kossoff’s portrayals of his kin and surroundings similarly attended to the shadowy corners and fleeting moments of life. Breathing refreshing honesty into the canon of modern painting, Kossoff crystallised locations that traced his every movement: first vested significantly with the depiction of his early working space in Willesden, the artist subsequently began portraying the neighbourhood of Dalston, upon moving his studio there in 1972. As expressed in a rare interview in 2013, Kossoff was preoccupied with ‘the kind of landscapes that many people would hesitate to regard as “scenic”, but that carry their own rough loveliness’ (Leon Kossoff, quoted in 'Leon Kossoff's love affair with London', The Guardian, 27 April 2013, online). From the windows of his studio, he studied how the light would fall on nearby buildings in the changing seasons, producing inimitable variations on a single theme.

    Displaying the artist’s sensibility towards his city, the intimate tonalities pervading Kossoff’s painterly depictions are equally a reflection of his loaded cultural past. Born to first generation Jewish Ukrainian immigrants some twenty years before World War II, Kossoff witnessed the persecution of people whose identity, bar their place of residence, were formally aligned with his. Protected by London’s sustained independence during the war, the artist, throughout his life, continued to view the city as a haven of sorts – one he depicted with comforting, quiet tones. He projected an air of familiarity on London’s peculiar buildings and infallible walls, as if they were an extension of his own home. On the present work, William Davie remarked: ‘His thickly loaded brush and dense packing of colours that have spent too long together and turned into a sludge of browns and greys, like muddy snow, are built off the canvas so that Kossoff can then force and image out of it. This has been refined to an act of alchemic balance so that the technique of Kossoff’s painting never overpowers the image brought to life in it, as seen in Stormy Summer Day, Dalston Lane’ (William Davie, ‘London Painters’, Wall Street International Magazine, 19 April 2018, online).


Stormy Summer Day, Dalston Lane

oil on board
105.1 x 122.6 cm (41 3/8 x 48 1/4 in.)
Painted in 1975, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the oil paintings of Leon Kossoff.

£380,000 - 580,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £435,000

Contact Specialist
Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4060 rwiden@phillips.com

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2019