Literature: William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, New York 2009, plate 292 (page 271)
From the end of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s Auerbach painted about ten paintings a year. These used a variety of support including oil on canvas, oil on board, oil on cardboard and oil on paper. Around a quarter of these pictures, such as Portrait of Laurie Owen, are oil on paper. The paper, however, is enormously thick and its irregular edges give the work an object-like presence.
William Feaver's complete catalogue of Auerbach's work includes no major drawings from this period, a reflection of the intensity of Auerbach's engagement with oil and also his desire to bring closer his painting and drawing. Whereas in the 1950s and early 1960s these two aspects had been distinct, by the early 1970s Auerbach's painting and drawing began to use directly comparable marks and the division between the two idiom had narrowed.
Head of Laurie Owen typifies this intensity and the tautness of Auerbach's line. It is one of only two paintings Auerbach made of Laurie Owen, a young painter. The other painting is in the collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.