Oskar Kokoschka

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Oskar Kokoschka is a renowned and notable Austrian painter, author and graphic artist, whose psychoanalytical work has been celebrated as significant contributions to the movement of Expressionism. Kokoschka ranked amongst the prominent and influential art figures of Europe during his time.

Oskar Kokoschka was born on March 1, 1886, in Pochlarn, Austria. He began to exhibit extraordinary natural talent for art and painting from a very early age, and he was clear and focused about pursuing his artistic education since he was a little boy. When he turned 18, he was awarded a scholarship to the Art and Crafts School, Vienna. In 1905, he began pursuing his artistic education at the Art and Crafts School and remained there till 1909.

In 1907, Oskar produced some of his earliest works, mainly portraits that had an impressively intense power of expression and a clear, well defined and finely depicted concept. Later, he began experimenting with still lives, landscapes and began depicting religious and symbolic characters in his paintings. In 1908, he produced his first book, ‘The Dreaming Boys’. During this period, Oskar also wrote a poem that he illustrated, printed and bound himself, along with some of his earliest plays.

In 1910, his friend and notable architect, Adolf Loos, pulled a few strings and arranged for Oskar to make his first foreign visit. Oskar visited Switzerland, where he was commissioned for several portraits and landscapes, some of his famous works from this period include, the portrait of Auguste Forel and the Dent du Midi. Later, Oskar visited Berlin, and he was commissioned to provide regular features that were published as the “portrait of the week” in the prestigious Der Strum.

With the outbreak of WWI, he returned to Austria, and enlisted for the army. In 1916, Oskar was severely and badly wounded while fighting at the Russian front, and after being declared an invalid, he was sent to Dresden. In 1919, he was appointed as a Professor at the Academy of Arts in Dresden, and he served this position till 1924.

After resigning from his post at the Academy, Oskar began conducting a series of extensive travels in all the great artistic capitals of Europe, and he travelled as far as North Africa, painting portraits and landscapes of people, still lives and landscapes drawn from different nations, cultures and tradition. In 1931, he decided to settle in Vienna, he remained here till 1934, when he decided to move to Prague. Oskar fell in love with the beautiful city of Prague, and he painted all its major streets, landmarks and iconic scenes. Indeed, Oskar has painted no city more than Prague, London follows as the second most painted location by Oskar Kokoschka.

In 1937, in the wake of the rising surge of Nazi control and crack down, Oskar’s work was removed from all major German public collections after being branded as “degenerate”. When the WWII broke out, Oskar along with his wife, moved to London, and in 1946, Kokoschka was given his British citizenship. When the war ended, he continued his extensive travels and participated in art movements, exhibitions and seminars all over the world, including regular trips to Italy, the Venice Biennale of 1948, and Germany. He even travelled to the United States when he was invited to deliver lectures at Boston in 1949, and in Minneapolis in 1952.

In 1953, he decided to leave London for the peace and breath-taking beauty of Villeneuve, Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The same year, he laid the foundation of the School of Seeing in Salzburg, the institution was founded as a source of inspiration and guidance for abstract art and expressionists.

Oskar Kokoshcka was one of the leading and prominent artists of the 20th century who did extensive work in all diverse kinds of artistic media including book illustrations, monumental depictions, stage designs, lithographs, books, water colors and paintings. Some of his iconic and best known works include, The Prometheus Saga, Thermopylae, Amor and Psyche, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, The Fettered Phantasy by Raimund, and Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera among many others.

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