Oskar Kokoschka (1886, Pochlam, Austria-1980, Montreux, Switzerland) was the son of a Prague goldsmith, Kokoschka studied at the Viennese applied arts school, Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule from 1904 to 1909 under Anton von Kenner, Carl Czeschka and Bertold Löffler. From 1907 he created designs for the artist’s association Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese workshops), including postcards and fans. That same year he created a series of illustrated poems entitled The Dream Boys and wrote two plays. His friend, Adolf Loos helped him get numerous commissions for portraits which instantly won the young and rebellious artist fame and recognition.

In 1908 he made his very successful exhibition debut at the art fair Wiener Kunstschau. While staying in Berlin in 1910, the artist worked for the Expressionist art journal Der Sturm and secured a contract with gallery owner Paul Cassirer. From 1912 to 1913 he taught as an assistant professor at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule (University of Applied Arts, Vienna) and in 1919, received a professorship at the Dresden Academy, where he taught until 1924. Throughout the following years he undertook extensive travels which resulted in large-scale views and landscapes. In 1934 the artist moved to Prague, where he taught at the local academy until 1938. In 1937 more than 400 of Kokoschka’s paintings were seized and some of them displayed at a Vienna exhibition of “degenerate” art. In 1938 the artist emigrated to London with Olda Palkovska and was granted British citizenship in 1947.

After extensive travels to the US and other countries, Kokoschka purchased a house in Villeneuve, Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva which became his primary residence. Kokoschka then founded an art school in Salzburg with gallery owner Friedrich Welz called Schule des Sehens (School of Vision) of which he remained artistic director until 1962. In the mid-70s Kokoschka developed a serious eye condition which began to impair his sight.

The artistic vision Kokoschka had outlined as a young, rebellious artist and chief exponent of the Viennese Expressionist Avant-Garde was to determine his entire œuvre. His quest became to detect, with a discerning eye, the subtle truth behind the visible characteristics of people, landscapes and the world as a whole. Kokoschka’s infinite capacity for differentiated perception is what makes looking at each of his works such an exceptional experience.

Museums: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna; The Leopold Museum, Vienna

Source: Wikipedia.de Kunsthandel ; Giese und Schweiger, Wien ; http://www.neuegalerie.org

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