b. 1926, United Kingdom
English painter and draftsman, 1926-2014
Leon Kossoff was a British figurative painter known for portraits, life drawings and cityscapes. Born in 1926 in Islington, London, to a family of Russian Jewish descent, he started attending the Hackney Downs School in London in 1938. Shortly after Kossoff was evacuated with the school to King's Lynn, Norfolk, where he lived with Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Bishop, who encouraged his interest in art. In 1943 after the return to London, he started studying commercial art at Saint Martin's School of Art, as well as drawing classes in the evenings at Toynbee Hall. Once finished his studies, he served in the Royal Fusiliers, in Italy, Holland, Belgium and Germany. He was heavily influenced by David Bomberg, his teacher at Borough Polytechnic (1950-1952), as well as by one of his colleagues at Saint Martin’s, Frank Auerbach. In 1959, he started teaching at Chelsea School of Art and at Saint Martin’s School of Art, while working in the studio and being exhibited with Francis Bancon, Lucian Freud, and Keith Critchlow. During this time, Kossoff moved his studio to Willesden Junction, and in 1966, moved his studio to Willesden Green. In 1995, Kossoff exhibited his artworks at the 46th Venice Biennale, and from then continued to be awarded solo exhibitions in the major UK museums, such as the Tate and the National Gallery.
He died in July 2019, after complications of a stroke.