Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980

Oskar Kokoschka was born in Pochlarn, Austria, and studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He was associated with the Sezession under Klimt's presidency and was a contributor to the Wiener Werkstätte through which he met the architect Adolf Loos (1870-1933), whom he painted in 1909 (Berlin, Neue Nationalgal.). His early portraits, freely painted and designed to show the sitter's inner self, were, like his allegorical play Murderer, Hope of Women (1909), intended to shock. In 1909 he moved to Berlin where he became a prolific illustrator for Der Sturm and painted figure subjects in a variety of styles united by an Expressionist intensity. The culmination of his pre-war work was the almost visionary Tempest (1914; Basle, Kunstmus.), painted in swirling blues, inspired by a love affair. He was badly wounded during World War I in 1915 but recovered to teach at the Dresden Academy (1919-24). Vehemently anti-Nazi, Kokoschka moved to Prague in 1934 and England in 1938, becoming naturalised in 1947. He continued to paint landscapes, townscapes such as Jerusalem (1929-30; Detroit, Inst. of Arts), and portraits in a distinctive personal Expressionist style.

 

THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WESTERN ART