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Eva Frankfurther, Artist

November 27, 2014
by the gentle author

There is an unmistakeable melancholic beauty which characterises Eva Frankfurther‘s East End drawings made during her brief working career in the nineteen-fifties. Born into a cultured Jewish family in Berlin in 1930, she escaped to London with her parents in 1939 and studied at St Martin’s School of Art between 1946 and 1952, where she was a contemporary of Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach.

Yet Eva turned her back on the art school scene and moved to Whitechapel, taking menial jobs at Lyons Corner House and then at a sugar refinery, immersing herself in the community she found there. Taking inspiration from Rembrandt, Käthe Kollwitz and Picasso, Eva set out to portray the lives of working people with compassion and dignity.

In 1958, afflicted with depression, Eva took her own life aged just twenty-eight, but despite the brevity of her career she revealed a significant talent and a perceptive eye for the soulful quality of her fellow East Enders.

“West Indian, Irish, Cypriot and Pakistani immigrants, English whom the Welfare State had passed by, these were the people amongst whom I lived and made some of my best friends. My colleagues and teachers were painters concerned with form and colour, while to me these were only means to an end, the understanding of and commenting on people.” – Eva Frankfurther

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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Leon Kossoff at Arnold Circus

James Boswell’s East London

The East London Group

Elwin Hawthorne, Artist

Albert Turpin, Artist

Phyllis Bray, Artist

Henry Silk, Artist

11 Responses leave one →
  1. November 27, 2014

    Lovely artwork!

  2. Vicky permalink
    November 27, 2014

    These are wonderful, I want to keep looking – and such a shame we don’t now have a lifetimes work to enjoy.
    They remind me of Felix Topolski’s drawings of Paris in the 1930s.

  3. November 27, 2014

    What fantastic drawings! How sad that she killed herself so young. I love her use of light and dark. Valerie

  4. Victoria permalink
    November 27, 2014

    Wonderful drawings. They reveal so much about the spirit of her subjects. Sad that her life and career were cut short so young.

  5. November 27, 2014

    Readers may like to know that paintings by Eva Frankfurther are included in ‘Refiguring the 50s’, a group show with Joan Eardley, Sheila Fell, Josef Herman and LS Lowry, on now at the Ben Uri Gallery in St John’s Wood.

  6. November 27, 2014

    She really knew how to make people come alive on paper, didn’t she! From the way she drew them, you get a real sense of how involved she must have been with her subjects. Thank you for yet another wonderful discovery.

  7. Jane Young permalink
    November 27, 2014

    Beautiful evocative pictures

  8. November 27, 2014

    These are superb – what talent and compassion, and how sad a death…

  9. Pauline Taylor permalink
    November 27, 2014

    A truly great talent, these drawings, and the painting, show us real people but how sad they all look, and perhaps the tragic death of the artist reflects how she seems to have seen the world.

    Thanks again for showing me something that I doubt if I would have seen otherwise, I shall now try to discover more about his artist.

  10. November 27, 2014

    The drawings have something in common with those of Käthe Kollwitz, that’s right. And they are very expressive!

    Love & Peace

  11. Richard permalink
    November 28, 2014

    Beautiful and sad drawings. Seems to be very little about her, on line at least

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