Leon Kossoff was born in 1926 to Russian-Jewish immigrant painters in the East End of London. He trained at the RCA and Central Saint Martins, and with evening classes under David Bomberg from 1950 to 1952 alongside fellow student Frank Auerbach, with whom his work has natural affinities in both subject matter and the idiosyncratic use of heavy impasto paint.
Throughout his career, Kossoff has been drawn to London as his primary subject matter alongside figure paintings of friends and family, and nudes. Urban scenescapes of railways, demolition sites, local monuments, and stations painted in dense, heavily worked impasto, emphasising light, form and structure, are among his most iconic works.
Kossoff was elected to the London group in 1962, and in 1995 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. Major solo exhibitions include at the Whitechapel in 1972, at MoMA in 1981, at the Tate in 1996 and at the National Gallery, London in 2007.
He is widely considered one of the greatest living artists in Britain.