the tempest by oskar kokoschka is a what kind of painting
In 1912, Kokoschka first met Alma Mahler, the recently widowed wife of composer Gustav Mahler. A passionate romance ensued, with the artist producing numerous drawings and paintings of his muse. The painting depicts Mahler in a peaceful sleep beside Kokoschka, who is awake and stares into space. The couple’s break-up in 1914 had a profound effect on Kokoschka, whose expressive brushwork grew more turbulent.
The Bride of the Wind (Die Windsbraut) (or The Tempest) is a 1913–1914 painting by Oskar Kokoschka. The oil on canvas work is housed in the Kunstmuseum Basel. Kokoschka’s best known work, it is an allegorical picture featuring a self-portrait by the artist, lying alongside his lover Alma Mahler.
One of the longest-lived expressionist painters, the Austrian-born painter, printmaker and writer Oskar Kokoschka was born at Pochlarn in Bohemia, and received his arts training in the Austro-Hungarian capital, Vienna. His first works – like the picture book The Dreaming Youths – were admired, and in 1908 he exhibited in the Kunstschau exhibition organized by the Klimt circle. This, together with his activity as a poet and playwright brought him into contact with the city’s avant-garde art community, including the composer Schonberg. Like the other great Austrian painter, his contemporary Egon Schiele (1890-1918), Kokoschka was influenced by German and Austrian versions of Art Nouveau (see also Jugendstil as well as the Vienna Secession) but, unlike Schiele, his painting style quickly moved from Klimt-style decorative linearism to a more intense style of German Expressionism. Kokoschka is now ranked among the greatest modern artists of the Austrian school, and one of the finest expressionist portrait artists of the 20th century.
WHAT IS VISUAL ART?
For an explanation of the
Art: Definition and Meaning.
And you held me, my love, and then went on dreaming.
Of perhaps a different kind of death.
So, the painting is infused with his personal torments or life and love, and fragile nature of both, but at the same time it hold a deeper meaning because it perfectly represents the changing times and the political and cultural changes that were taking place. The painting mirrors the uncertainties that the future beholds; both the fleeting nature of love and passion, and the political instability that affects everyone. Here is a poem called “With Your Right Hand on my Neck” by a Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti that seems to fit the mood of Kokoschka’s painting and also mingles the themes of love and death:
Oskar Kokoschka moved daringly from a more decorative style into a bold, racy Expressionism. He came of age during turn-of-the-century Vienna, exploring Sigmund Freud’s analysis of dreams and the unconscious as well as giving voice to the growing anxiety felt among the bourgeois class about the modern age. His disorienting compositions used bold brushstrokes and strong colors to confront the viewer. His freedom from stylistic constraint as well as his belief in the power of art to raise awareness of contemporary problems set an example for artists from the Abstract Expressionists in the mid-20 th century to the Neo-Expressionists of the late-20 th century.
Created just a year after The Dreaming Boys, Kokoschka’s Self-portrait as Warrior declares his break with Jugendstijl and decorative arts and affirms his commitment to an expressionistic art. The artist subverts the traditional form of the portrait bust by presenting distorted, suffering features. It is as if Kokoschka pulled back his own skin to reveal raw nerves and flesh. The thickly modeled clay, with incised lines, would find its counterpart in his portrait paintings from this same time. Kokoschka remarked of the striations in the clay, “Seeing a Polynesian mask with its incised tattooing, I understood at once, because I could feel my own facial nerves reacting to cold and hunger in the same way.”
Oil on canvas – Museum of Modern Art, New York
While Kokoschka reveled in his earlier rebel status as a young Expressionist, here we see him inserting himself into a long tradition of European landscape painting, going back to Canaletto, who painted Venice so magisterially, and the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, such as Monet and Signac. Kokoschka retains his bright color and short, energetic brushstrokes in this landscape painting, but instead of presenting a foreboding or anxious scene (a type of scene he specialized in earlier), Kokoschka relishes the Mediterranean light as it plays across the water and the gleaming buildings.