Oskar Kokoschka

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Oskar Kokoschka : biography

1 March 1886 – 12 February 1980

Kokoschka had a passionate, often stormy affair with Alma Mahler. It began in 1912, shortly after the death of her four-year-old daughter Maria Mahler and her affair with Walter Gropius. After several years together, Alma rejected him, explaining that she was afraid of being too overcome with passion. He continued to love her his entire life, and one of his greatest works, The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest), is a tribute to her. The poet Georg Trakl visited the studio while Kokoschka was painting this masterpiece. Kokoschka’s poem Allos MarkarPoem 1913 Translation.Happiness is otherwise an anagram of Alma & Oskar) was inspired by this relationship.

He volunteered for service as a cavalryman in the Austrian army in World War I, and in 1915 was seriously wounded. At the hospital, the doctors decided that he was mentally unstable. Nevertheless, he continued to develop his career as an artist, traveling across Europe and painting the landscape.

He commissioned a life-sized female doll in 1918. Although intended to simulate Alma and receive his affection, the gynoid-Alma did not satisfy Kokoschka and he destroyed it during a party.

Deemed a degenerate by the Nazis, Kokoschka fled Austria in 1934 for Prague. In Prague his name was adopted by a group of other expatriate artists, the Oskar-Kokoschka-Bund (OKB), though he declined to otherwise participate.K. Holz, Modern German Art for Thirties Paris, Prague, and London: Resistance and Acquiescence in a Democratic Public Sphere In 1938, when the Czechs began to mobilize for the expected invasion of the Wehrmacht, he fled to the United Kingdom and remained there during the war. With the help of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Refugee Trust Fund), all members of the OKB were able to escape through Poland and Sweden.

During World War II, Oskar Kokoschka and his wife lived in Ullapool, a village along the Wester Ross of Scotland for several summer months. There he drew with colored pencil (a technique he developed in Scotland), and painted many local landscape views in watercolour.One of these is in the Art Gallery in Aberdeen

Kokoschka became a British citizen in 1946 and only in 1978 would regain Austrian citizenship. He traveled briefly to the United States in 1947 before settling in Switzerland, where he lived the rest of his life. Kokoschka’s last years were somewhat embittered, as he found himself marginalized as a curious footnote to art history. He died in Montreux on 22 February 1980.

Kokoschka had much in common with his contemporary Max Beckmann. Both maintained their independence from German Expressionism, yet they are now regarded as its supreme masters, who delved deeply into the art of past masters to develop unique individual styles. Their individualism left them both orphaned from the main movements of Twentieth Century modernism. Both wrote eloquently of the need to develop the art of "seeing" (Kokoschka emphasized depth perception while Beckmann was concerned with mystical insight into the invisible realm), and both were masters of innovative oil painting techniques anchored in earlier traditions.

Tributes

  • The Children’s television show Hey Arnold! features a character named Oskar Kokoschka. He is portrayed as a deadbeat in Arnold’s family’s boarding house.
  • A UK Midlands based 1980’s pop group called themselves ‘Oskar Kokoschka’. In 1986 they released a 12 inch EP featuring the songs ‘Waiting til it all Blows Over’ and ‘Letting the water out’.

Artworks

  • 1909: Lotte Franzos
  • 1909: Martha Hirsch I
  • 1909: Hans and Erika Tietze
  • 1909: St. Veronica with the Sudarium
  • 1909: Les Dents du Midi
  • 1909: Children Playing
  • 1910: Still Life with Lamb and Hyacinth
  • 1910: Rudolf Blümner
  • 1911: Hermann Schwarzwald I
  • 1911: Egon Wellesz
  • 1911: Crucifixion
  • 1912: Two Nudes
  • 1913: Landscape in the Dolomites (with Cima Tre Croci)
  • 1913: The Tempest
  • 1913: Carl Moll
  • 1913: Still Life with Putto and Rabbit
  • 1914: "Portrait of Franz Hauser"
  • 1915: Knight Errant
  • 1917: Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
  • 1917: Lovers with Cat
  • 1917: Stockholm Harbour
  • 1920: The Power of Music
  • 1919: Dresden, Neustadt I
  • 1921: Dresden, Neustadt II
  • 1921: Two Girls
  • 1922: Self-Portrait at the Easel
  • 1923: Self-Portrait with Crossed Arms
  • 1925: Amsterdam, Kloveniersburgwal I
  • 1924: Venice, Boats on the Dogana
  • 1925: Toledo
  • 1926: Mandrill
  • 1926: Deer
  • 1929: Arab Women and Child
  • 1932: Girl with Flowers
  • 1934: Prague, View from the Villa Kramář
  • 1937: Olda Palkovská
  • 1938: Prague – Nostalgia
  • 1940: The Crab
  • 1941: Anschluss – Alice in Wonderland
  • 1941: The Red Egg
  • 1948: Self-Portrait (Fiesole)
  • 1962: Storm Tide in Hamburg
  • 1966: The Rejected Lover
  • 1971: Time, Gentlemen, Please

Literature

  • Alfred Weidinger: Oskar Kokoschka. Dreaming Boy and Enfant Terrible. Early Graphic Works, 1902-1909. Ed. Albertina, Vienna 1996.
  • Alfred Weidinger: Kokoschka and Alma Mahler: Testimony to a Passionate Relationship. Prestel, New York 1996, ISBN 3-7913-1722-9