Leon Kossof (1926 -2019) was a friend of artist Frank Auerbach, and a key figure in the ‘School of London’ artists group. This is the first time a work by the expressionist artist has been translated into tapestry and is also be the first new public artwork for Edinburgh by Dovecot in a decade.
Dovecot is a leading contemporary tapestry studio and a centre for contemporary art, craft and design in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Founded in 1912, Dovecot has created tapestries with some of the UK’s leading artists and architects. From Graham Sutherland and David Hockney, to Barbara Rae and Chris Ofili, each new tapestry creates an opportunity for aesthetic discussion, experimentation and collaboration.
Leon Kossoff (1926-2019) is considered one of the most important figurative painters of post-war Britain. Known for his portraits and urban landscapes, Kossoff made multiple studies of the work of Old Masters, including Constable, Poussin and Rembrandt. The subject for the tapestry is a highly charged anti-war painting by Kossoff that was, in turn, inspired by the work of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). He was captivated by Rubens’ 1630 composition in which Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, helps to drive away Mars, the god of war. Kossoff observed Rubens’ work closely over a period of years and made many drawings before creating his own study in 1981.
The time and skill required by the Dovecot team to interpret Kossoff’s painting will be even greater than the artist’s intense observation of Rubens. This is a demanding commission that will be woven over a period of 16 months by three weavers. Kossoff’s vigorous, viscous application of paint to the canvas and the depth of his palette is an opportunity to exercise Dovecot’s expressive skills.
Photo credit: Andy Mather Photography
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