Born in Berlin, Auerbach left Nazi Germany in 1939 to live in England. After the war he settled in London. In 1954 he took over the Camden Town studio of his fellow artist and close friend Leon Kossoff and he has used the same studio ever since. Auerbach has painted mainly landscapes and townscapes in the Camden Town area, and portraits of a few close friends. These friends sit for him regularly every week and have done so for a number of years. Auerbach spends a long time on each painting, making many preliminary drawings. His paintings are characterised by extremely thick layers of paint. Although this has the appearance of accumulating over several months, the artist regularly scrapes off all the paint to start afresh.