Oskar Kokoschka. A Rebel from Vienna
03.17.2023 - 09.03.2023
A painter, poet, writer, essayist, and playwright, Oskar Kokoschka (b. 1886; d. 1980) began his career in early 20th-century Vienna alongside artists Gustav Klimt (b. 1862; d. 1918) and Egon Schiele (b. 1890; d. 1918). His first works shocked the public and critics alike, earning him the nickname Oberwildling—“the most savage of them all.” Yet his rich personal and artistic path went on to span the 20th century and was intrinsically linked to the historical events that shaped it.
Throughout his career, Kokoschka demonstrated a thirst for independence and refrained from associating himself with artistic movements. If the artist accepted one epithet to describe himself, it was that of expressionist. “I am an expressionist because I do not know how to do anything other than express life.” His commitment to his art is reflected in each of his works and places him as an essential witness to his time and its transformations.
A radical artist from the start, he became a target of the Nazis, who considered him a representative of “degenerate art.” He fought against fascism with his work, becoming an influential figure for European reconciliation after World War II and actively participating in the cultural reconstruction of a devastated continent.
Galleries: 205, 206, 207, 209
Curators: Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer in collaboration with Fabrice Hergott and Fanny Schulmann
Venues: Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
The Painter II (The Painter and His Model II) [Der Maler II (Maler und Modell II)], 1923
Oil on canvas
85.5 × 130.5 cm
Saint-Louis, Saint Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Morton D. May, 1983
© Fondation Oskar Kokoschka, 2023, VEGAP, Bilbao