who was oskar kokoschka
Labelled a Degenerate Artist
From 1908-12 Kokoschka began a series of expressionist paintings, namely his “psychological portraits” of Viennese celebrities, seen as the first works to reveal modern existential anxieties: a genre exemplified by his portrait of the prominent architect Adolf Loos (1909, State Museum, Berlin). In 1910 he was given his first solo exhibition at the Folkwang Musem in Hangen. In 1912, his portrait art was chosen by Herwarth Walden for inclusion in the first shows at the Sturm Gallery shows in Berlin and in the Cologne Sonderbund exhibition. Around this time Kokoschka began his passionate and stormy affair with Alma Mahler, widow of composer Gustav Mahler, which he celebrated in his 1914 painting The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest) (Kunstmuseum, Basle). Though she eventually broke it off, he continued to love her for the rest of his life.
In Cadenabbia, he paints the portrait of the former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Kokoschka retrospective in the Zurich Kunsthaus. At the request of the publisher Axel Springer, he paints a view of East Berlin from the Axel Springer Skyscraper. Draws the lithographs of the series Saul and David.
Illustrations for Knut Hamsun’s novel Pan and for the short story Einstein überquert die Elbe bei Hamburg (‘Einstein Crosses the Elbe near Hamburg’) by Siegfried Lenz.
In 1908 he met the prominent Viennese architect Adolf Loos, who, having been impressed by one of Kokoschka’s early paintings, took an active interest in the young artist. Like Kokoschka, Loos rejected the prevailing decorative ideal, and he enthusiastically launched Kokoschka’s artistic career by introducing him to sympathetic artists, securing him commissions for paintings, and providing him with much-needed spiritual inspiration and support.
At about this time Kokoschka began his career as a writer, composing several plays that heralded the new Expressionist theatre and expressed his compassionately humanist philosophy. The most important of them was Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (1907; “Murderer, Hope of Women”), a play that expressed Kokoschka’s sensitivity to the moral crises of modern life and that condemned the political injustices of contemporary European society. He said in 1933 that in this play he
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.”
Oskar Kokoschka was born in 1886 in PГ¶chlarn, a small town on the Danube, 100 kilometers west of Vienna. His father Gustav, from a German patrician family of goldsmiths, was a travelling salesman and, his mother Maria Romana (nГ©e Loidl) was a forester’s daughter from the state of Styria in south east Austria. When asked about his childhood Kokoschka said that he was a very happy child and that his father gave him books which formed him as a man and an artist. Among these were an abbreviated version of the Odyssey and the Orbis Sensualium Pictus, a 1658 textbook for children written by Czech educator John Amos Comenius. From these his appreciation for classical literature and the arts began.
Kokoschka’s portraits incorporate an expressive color palette similar to those featured in the works of German Die Brücke artists at the time. Kokoschka’s use of shrill, harsh colors that make the subjects appear as rotting corpses is not meant to be understood as a portrayal of their individual physical conditions, but rather an overarching indication of a decomposing age.  The bold lines and patches of bright color juxtaposed against an otherwise solid, dull background were visual interpretations of the anxieties felt by Kokoschka and those in circle. Kokoschka’s portraits, however, differed from those of his contemporaries due to his belief in the symbolic importance of the act of painting itself, which is emphasized by visible brushstrokes and areas of exposed canvas. Kokoschka integrated painterly techniques with those used in drawing, as seen in his use of vibrant and contrasting colors, rapid brushstrokes, anxious scratch marks, and uneven handling.
Die träumenden Knaben along with the tapestry titled The Dream Bearers, which is now lost, were the first works ever to be exhibited by Kokoschka. Like the book illustrations, Kokoschka’s tapestry was pronounced disturbing due to its depiction of youthful, exotic and sexualized fantasies. Upon showing these two works, Kokoschka received backlash from conservative officials and only a small portion of the five hundred copies of Die träumenden Knaben were actually bound and sold.  As a result, he was expelled from the Kunstgewerbeschule and found his place within the Viennese avant-garde.  Austrian architect Adolf Loos befriended Kokoschka and introduced him to other avant-garde members who then became his subjects in a series of portrait paintings.