Hamburg III. 1961. Oil on canvas. Winkler/Erling 446. Online work catalog 1961/2. Lower right monogrammed. 50 x 60 cm (19.6 x 23.6 in).
This lot includes Kokoschka's original "Ausweis für Werkfremde" (ID card for non-employees ), which granted him access to the Stülcken shipyard, where the painting was made. The artist's original color sample palette is also included.
PROVENANCE: Prof. Edgar Horstmann (architect and art collector, obtained directly from the artist). Private collection Northern Germany.
EXHIBITION: Große Kunstausstellung, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 9 June to 7 October 1962, no. 196 (with label on stretcher) Oskar Kokoschka, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1st June to 24 Juli 1966, no. 112, color illu. on plate V.
LITERATURE: Edgar Horstmann. Oskar Kokoschka in Hamburg, Hamburg 1965, p. 27 with color illu. "How much I loved the time in Hamburg [..], whenever I think back I feel homesick. No other city in the world was such a rich source of inspiration and nowhere did I meet such lovely and generous people. (From a letter by Oskar Kokoschka to Wilhelm Reinhold, 2 November, 1967)
Kokoschka's inimitable depictions of the world's metropolises count among the artist's most sought-after works on the art market. All of the cityscapes were painted from an elevated position in order to capture a preferably detailed panorama view. This work shows a view of the Hamburg harbor from the Stülcken shipyard on the Elbe's southern banks. The architect and art collector Edgar Horstmann personally selected a rather unusual place as Kokoschka's studio and noted the following: "This morning I was up on the big crane at the Stülcken yard, I wanted to see if this might be a good place for OK to paint. A bit breakneck, but it offers a remarkably complete view of Hamburg. - I am still waiting for his answer." Eventually Kokoschka set up his studio there, at a dizzy height of 60 meters above the water, accessible only with a small elevator (see illu. Kokoschka working on the painting "Hamburger Hafen II", which was made from the same position). For his uncommon studio the artist even needed his own shipyard identity card for non-employees (see illu.). He only had three weeks to complete the project. A look at the picture reveals that Kokoschka was happy and felt at home. It is literally bursting with bright summery colors that emphasize the bustling goings-on in the harbor. The whole composition emanates a tremendous airiness and transparency. The scene immediately calls reminiscence of the great masterworks of art history: Canaletto's Canale Grande in Venice or Monet's Houses of Parliaments appear in front of our mind's eye. Owed to the blaze of colors, this work is definitely one of the most beautiful accomplishments from his later period of creation. [SM]