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Oskar Kokoschka

Biographies
Oskar Kokoschka

*  1886 Pöchlarn/Niederösterreich
† 1980 Montreux


Oskar Kokoschka was born in Pöchlarn near Vienna on March 1, 1886. The family moves to Vienna in 1887, where Kokoschka attends the School of Applied Arts by aid of a state scholarship as of 1904. He begins working at the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) while still studying, making designs for postcards, fans and vignettes.
He publishes his first poetry book "Die träumenden Knaben" (Dreaming Boys) in 1908, for which he also did the illustrations. Kokoschka also participates in an exhibition of both the Vienna Workshop and the Vienna Secession in 1908. He shows tapestry designs as well as drawings and gouaches of nude girls, which are successful and controversial at the same time. Both Gustav Klimt and Adolf Loos encourage him to stick to his art, the latter accompanies him on several journeys and also supports him financially.
Oskar Kokoschka meets Herwarth Walden in Berlin in 1910. He publishes his expressionist play "Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen" (Murderer, Hope for Women) in the magazine "Der Sturm" (The Storm). He meets Alma Mahler, widow of the composer Gustav Mahler in Vienna in 1912, with whom he has a passionate affair until 1915. Her facial features appear in numerous works. He is an assistant at the School of Applied Arts in 1912/13 and teaches nude drawing. Kokoschka volunteers in World War I and is dismissed in 1915 as he is severely wounded. He applies for a professorship at the Dresden Academy of Art, a post he does not get before 1919. The 1920s are years of success for Oskar Kokoschka. The Berlin gallery owner Bruno Cassirer contracts him, which, along with his professorship, grants a regular income.
Portraits are among his most important works, depicting people's appearance and gestures regardless of beauty and plain outer resemblance, in his own psychological pervasion. As of 1921 Oskar Kokoschka works on city views, which will dominate his work over the following years.
He has a second domicile in Paris as of 1924 and goes on numerous journeys through France, Switzerland, England, Spain, Italy, the Middle East and North Africa, going back to Vienna in 1933, however, he flees from the worsening political situation via Prague to England. As a reaction to the exhibition of degenerate art, which contains eight works by Kokoschka, he does the painting "Selbstbildnis als entarteter Künstler" (Self-Portrait as a Degenerate Artist). In 1947 Oskar Kokoschka receives British Citizenship.
Kokoschka lives in Villeneuve on Lake Geneva after the war. From 1953 to 1963 he is director of the Salzburg Summer Academy "Schule des Sehens" (School of Vision). He dies at an old age in Montreux in 1980.


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