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Friday, August 30, 2013

Kokoschka, Oskar


Tre Croci - Dolomite Landscape
1913
oil on canvas
82 x 119 cm
Leopold Museum, Wien, Austria

On her journey with Oskar Kokoschka in August of 1913, Kokoschka’s then-lover Alma Mahler (widow of composer Gustav Mahler) wrote in her diary: “In Tre Croci, our life revolved entirely around his work. ... The summer sun above the glaciers! This morning, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I simply do not deserve this blessing. Kokoschka needs to work! This is what he was born for. Life as such doesn’t interest him one bit…”
The landscape depicted in this painting has an enchanted appearance. The predominantly green colouration, the rugged, dark contours and the mysterious quality of the lighting situation all support this impression. The sketches for this painting bear the subtitle After the Storm. Although Alma Mahler is not actually visible in this landscape, she is somehow present all the same. (Leopold Museum)

Oskar Kokoschka (1886 - 1980) was an Austrian painter, illustrator, poet, and playwright, who is credited with founding Expressionist drama, best known for his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. He is the third in the great trio of Viennese artists (Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele), and the one whose reputation is currently hardest to assess. On the outbreak of the First World War he volunteered to join the cavalry. While on patrol, he was machine-gunned and bayoneted but was eventually rescued. As an artist Kokoschka started to gain international fame in the 1920. In the Nazi Germany his works were banned by the authorities, and mocked as examples of degenerate art. Kokoschka's last years were somewhat embittered, as he found himself marginalized as a curious footnote to art history.