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Children’s Swimming Pool, Autumn Afternoon, 1971

Leon Kossoff

Oil paint on board | 178 x 224 cm | Tate: Purchased 1981
© Tate, London 2017 © Leon Kossoff / Courtesy Annely Juda Fine Art, London

Audio produced by the J. Paul Getty Museum


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Leon Kossoff, a London native, began drawing and painting the city at the age of 12. He often returned to the same subject again and again. Curator Elena Crippa:


"This is the swimming pool where he used to take his children to learn to swim. Kossoff has described this period of his life as one of the happiest, and I think this great energy and excitement for life is very present in this picture. He loved the atmosphere, the changing light, the sense of vitality, the richness of that environment."


Kossoff typically sketched a scene for days or even months at a time. But he executed the painting itself in a matter of hours. If Kossoff wasn't satisfied with the final result, he scraped the paint off and began afresh.


"There is always a sense of painting the immediate response to a situation, to a sitter, or to an environment, so that each picture materializes effectively in a matter of hours; and this freshness is very much rendered in the great vitality and movement of the brushwork on the surface of the canvas, or the board." (Elena Crippa)


His approach was similar to Frank Auerbach's, whose work you saw in the preceding gallery. The two artists attended art school together and were close friends. They often sat for one another when neither could afford a professional model.