The School of London and this mysterious missing link
Tim Behrens died two days ago aged 79. R.I.P.
It is almost impossible to find in English any written review about Timothy Behrens. Did this gentleman exist? If so, who was Tim Behrens? Apparently, he was a young artist that use to drink with Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, and Lucian Freud among others at infamous pubs like The Colony Room—“a private members’ drinking club for artists and other creative people at 41 Dean Street, Soho, London, founded and presided over by Muriel Belcher from its inception in 1948 until her death in 1979” (Wikipedia). The few printed references to Tim Behrens are related either to him as a model of two important paintings, of four portraits Freud did of the young pupil and close friend—Red Haired Man On A Chair (sold-out for £4,152,000 in 2005) and A Painter—, or as a young artist in a famous photograph by John Deakin: Lunch at Wheelers: L-R: Timothy Behrens, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach and Michael Andrews.
Though ignored in England for motives nobody apparently understands, Tim Behrens has been a prolific artist for more than fifty years. He left Britain very young and very sad. Namely with Lucian Freud after nine years of intense friendship. Freud became to him a surrogate of his hatred father, a banker. Being abandoned by his teacher and close friend, Tim left England for good, spending most of his life in Greece, Italy, and Spain. I still don't understand though why is Tim Behrens missing in all surveys of the British art from the early sixties.
The most extensive description of Timothy Behrens I could find in the British press is this one:
Celebrities and bohemians come together for Lucian Freud sale
A rare portrait by Lucian Freud of a fellow painter from the Soho bohemian artistic scene in the 1960s in London is to go on sale at Christie's next year.
Red-Haired Man on a Chair, a portrait of the artist Tim Behrens, is expected to fetch up to £1.8m in the auction on 9 February. It will go on sale next to Freud's celebrated portrait of the supermodel Kate Moss, who was painted naked and pregnant. Naked Portrait 2002, in a private collection, is one of the few occasions Freud has chosen to paint someone well known. It is expected to sell for about £3.5m.
Christie's announced the sale of the Moss painting in October; the addition of the Behrens picture will make the sale an important one. Freud's paintings rarely come up for auction. This will be one of the few occasions that two of his works have come up for auction at the same time.
As a relative unknown, Behrens, a painter and student at the Slade School of Art, was a more likely candidate for a Freud painting. He was part of the tightly knit group of artists and intellectuals who frequented the Colony Room, the infamous Soho drinking club where Freud and others such as Francis Bacon spent much time during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Other regulars have included such figures as Jeffrey Bernard and George Melly, while current members include the new generation of British artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.
Said to be a great admirer of Freud, Behrens posed in the artists' small Paddington studio in 1962 and 1963; Freud is renowned for the length of time taken to complete portraits. The painting features a pile of rags in the background which were to find their way into many other Freud pictures.
—in IndependentAnother extensive description of the relation between Timothy Behrens and Lucian Freud can also be found in a recent book by Geordie Greig: Breakfast with Lucian. A Portrait of the Artist
Bibliography related to this post
—Geordie Greig. Breakfast with Lucian. A Portrait of the Artist [Amazon] [Amazon Look Inside!]
—A Portrait Painted in Heavy Strokes. ‘Breakfast With Lucian,’ by Geordie Greig. Books of The Times. By DWIGHT GARNER NOV. 21, 2013
—About Red-Haired Man on a Chair, in Christie’s Press Release, 4 January 2005 (pdf)
—El coruñés de la escuela de Londres. La Opinión, 09.02.2017
—T. Behrens by T. Behrens
—T. Behrens and the so-called School of London
—The Colony Room school
—Tim Behrens. Sobre uma retrospectiva necessária
by John Vere Brown
bromide fibre print, 1958
10 in. x 10 1/8 in. (254 mm x 256 mm)
© Mander and Mitchenson Theatre Collection
National Portrait Gallery
Last update: 9 February 2017