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Eva Frankfurther, Artist

January 30, 2018
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 1959, 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 copyrigh t© Estate of Eva Frankfurter

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Barnett Freedman, Artist

Morris Goldstein, Artist

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

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Ellen permalink
    January 30, 2018

    These are the kind that make it look so easy, but I know it’s not. She draws a few wobbly lines, and I bet I would know that man if I saw him on the Tube. I scratch a dozen lines just to make one side of the nose, and my faces look like cartoons. Bad ones. She was a great artist.

  2. Susan permalink
    January 30, 2018

    She’s so beautiful, so sad.

  3. Melvyn Brooks permalink
    January 30, 2018

    So sad. I am anxious to learn more of the life of Eva Frankfurter. There is no reference to her work in East End Vernacular. Any clues to the whereabouts of the Estate of Eva Frankfurter would be very welcome. Thanks so much.
    Melvyn Brooks Karkur Israel.

  4. John Barrett permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Eva’s art is striking and on the dark side, a mental condition can sometimes heighten perception.
    In that period of our history there was a tremendous upheaval which reflected on people. She would have survived today with all the help that’s around. G Bless Eva Shalom Aleichem. John a poet from Bristol

  5. January 30, 2018

    The picture of the mother and child made me shiver and others so full of character. So sad when mental health robs us of such talent.

  6. Helen Breen permalink
    January 30, 2018

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, Eva’s sketches are profoundly moving. None of her subjects is actually smiling, as if she can channel the tragedy that unfolded in Europe during her brief lifetime. The one of the mother and two young children is particularly poignant.

  7. January 30, 2018

    A great Artist with a very tragical Life Story …

    Love & Peace

  8. Hels (Art and Architecture, mainly) permalink*
    January 31, 2018

    Many thanks. Some artists are easy to find and analyse especially
    Barnett Freedman, Morris Goldstein and Leon Kossoff. But Eva
    Frankfurther enjoyed such a short career that my courses on British
    artists have never included her. So I will have to do a lot of
    reading before we start up again, later this year

  9. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 31, 2018

    Such emotive images, perhaps reflecting personal anguish suffered by Eva. Sad to hear that she died so young.

  10. Sonia Murray permalink
    February 1, 2018

    Eva was so talented, so empathetic and perceptive that her portraits touch the soul. What a dreadful shame that she did not survive to enjoy the respect and the fame her work would surely have brought her. I hope her drawings now hang in London’s great museums, as they deserve to be.

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