Oskar Kokoschka, a terrifying prodigy

Get to know the oil portraits of this great artist. Constructed in high paste, his faces are the contradictory theaters of the conflicts between flesh and expression, between the embodiment and the effect of the spirit, between the emotion of color and the pale conquest of corruption. Kokoschka’s works dig with fingers, nails, the wood of the brush, the brush, with vermiculate gestures and sometimes large flat areas, what is human. The humanity of man, his impulses, the tragedy of desires and self-destruction, his genius, his sometimes goodness, are the themes tirelessly explored throughout his life by this great artist, born Viennese, died English and lived in Europe painfully overcoming the great conflicts of the 20th century.

It all starts in Vienna, Austria. Vienna was one of the capitals of European thought at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. After the first upheavals brought about by Klimt, Mahler, Hoffman, Schnitzler, Freud and others, Vienna invented a modernity that brought together unprecedented talents in all fields of aesthetics and thought. Kokoschka, who was 21 in 1907, immediately caused a scandal during his first public appearances, through his writing, his theater and his painting. This bad boy of Viennese modernity, immediately considered “a terrifying prodigy” and proclaimed “savage leader”, immediately established himself as a radical innovator who, with his younger brother Egon Schiele, would have given a brutal and profound morality to the bourgeoisie already shaken by the naked truth that Klimt had previously imposed on him. His life struck by the tragedies of the century, will make him wounded, exiled, derided as an artist degenerated by the Nazis, but he will be able to keep a sumptuous work, which will end with an absolute masterpiece, the last self-portrait of him …

Oskar Kokoschka, Self-portrait / Selbstbildnis, 1917, Oil on canvas 79 x 63 cm Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal
Oskar Kokoschka, Self-portrait / Selbstbildnis, 1917, Oil on canvas 79 x 63 cm Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal

– photo Patrick Schwarz © Oskar Kokoschka Foundation / Adagp, Paris 2022

Reading the texts: Sophie Daull

Lyrics and music transmission:

  • Letter to Erwin Lang: ALBAN BERG – 4 Pieces for clarinet and piano op 5: 4. Langsam – RONALD VAN SPAENDONCK
  • Letter to Alotte Franzos: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG – 6 small pieces op 19: Klavierstück op 19 n ° 3 – for piano – CHRISTOPH EGGNER
  • Letter to Alma Mahler: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG – 6 small pieces op 19: Klavierstück op 19 n ° 6 – for piano – CHRISTOPH EGGNER
  • Information on Ehrenstein: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG – 6 small pieces op 19: Klavierstück op 19 n ° 4 – for piano – CHRISTOPH EGGNER
  • Kokoschka’s poem: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG – 6 small pieces op 19: Klavierstück op 19 n ° 2 – for piano – CHRISTOPH EGGNER
  • Letter to Miss Moos: ARNOLD SHONBERG – Suite op 25: 3. Intermezzo – ARASH ROKNI

Research manager: Maurine Roy

In collaboration with BeauxArts Magazine.

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