Oskar Kokoschka, Self-Portrait, 1948. Oil on canvas, 65.5 × 55 cm.
Fondation Oskar Kokoschka FOK 30. ©Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / DACS 2018
The Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) achieved world fame with his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. Rüdiger Görner, author of the first English-language biography, depicts the artist in all his fascinating and contradictory complexity. He traces Kokoschka’s path from bête noire of the bourgeoisie and a so-called ‘hunger artist’ to a wealthy and cosmopolitan political and critical artist who played a major role in shaping the European art scene of the twentieth century and whose relevance is undiminished to this day.
In 1938, when the Czechs began to mobilize for the expected invasion by the German Wehrmacht, Kokoschka fled to the United Kingdom, where he remained during the war. Although he had an international reputation at the time of his first emigration to Prague, he was not yet well-known in Britain. This lecture throws new light upon his experiences, reception and work in exile, including his impressions of London, his portrait commissions and his series of now celebrated anti-Fascist works such as the allegory What We Are Fighting For (1943) and The Red Egg (1939-41). In 1947, Kokoschka travelled briefly to the United States before settling in Switzerland in 1953, where he lived the rest of his life.
Kokoschka was more than a mere visual artist: his achievements as a playwright, essayist, and poet bear witness to a remarkable literary talent. Music, too, played a central role in his work, and a passion for teaching led him to establish in 1953 the School of Seeing, an unconventional art school intended to revive humanist ideals in the horrific aftermath of war.
There is more happening during the first week of May: we are partnering with Liberation75, a global gathering of Holocaust survivors, descendants, educators and friends. From May 4 to 9, the free virtual event will feature almost 100 programs including: Concerts, Panel Discussions, Leading Speakers, Holocaust Survivor Testimony, Virtual Tours, Exhibits, Descendant Discussions, Reunions and a full Film Festival. Check out the full schedule of amazing speakers and programming HERE!