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Oskar Kokoschka

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Oskar Kokoschka

Austrian, (1886–1980)
Oskar Kokoschka was an Austrian artist and poet known for his Expressionist portraits and landscapes. Characterized by staccato brushstrokes and bright colors, the artist created works that seem to shiver with energy. Born in Pöchlarn, Austria, he grew up in Vienna and at 18 was awarded a scholarship to the city’s School of Arts and Crafts. In 1908, however, he was dismissed from the institution after he displayed works considered disturbing in both content and technique. A leading figure in Vienna’s avant-garde alongside Egon Schiele, in 1912, he began an affair with Alma Mahler the widow of composer Gustav Mahler and former lover of Walter Gropius. This affair and its subsequent dissolution, inspired Kokoschka to create one his most acclaimed works The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest) (1913-1914). Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, he travelled across Europe, developing his distinctive method of exaggerated portraiture that dramatized his sitters’ psychological states. Having already fled the Nazi regime once, in 1937, his work was deemed “degenerate art” by the Nazis and he was forced to escape to England. He later settled in Villeneuve near Geneva, where he taught at the Internationale Sommer Akademie für Bildenden Künste.

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