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Building sites in London were a favourite theme for Auerbach in the 1950s. This painting was based on drawings made looking down onto the area between Oxford Street and Cavendish Square.

Auerbach’s characteristically thick paint and earth tones evoke the grime and dirty excavation of the scene. He was interested in the complex structure made by the cranes and scaffolding; their linear pattern is etched into the paint. This is reminiscent of the strong structure often employed by Bomberg.

September 2004