ZURICH, Switzerland – A retrospective of Austrian figurative expressionist Oskar Kokoschka was previewed on Thursday at the Kunsthaus Zurich, featuring over 200 artworks spanning all phases of his career.
Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), well known for his intense expressionist paintings of landscapes and people, challenged the emerging abstract movement prominent at the time.
Curator Catherine Hug has compiled over 200 artworks in a retrospective that reveals “that while Kokoschka’s art was defamed as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, the artist himself came through the ordeal relatively unscathed, making a living executing commissions for celebrated figures in the worlds of literature, architecture and politics,” the exhibition’s website said.
A recurring theme in Kokoschka’s work was a life-long frustrated love affair with Alma Mahler whom he depicted compulsively and was the muse of one of his most well-known pieces, a 4-meter-long (13-feet-long) “Mural for Alma,” as well as an Alma doll.
In 1918 the artist commissioned a doll-maker to recreate a life-size version of Alma after their tempestuous affair ended.
Kokoschka took great interest in the creation process of the doll, sending doll-maker, Hermine Moos, intricate drawings and instructions of what it should like.
However, Kokoschka was disappointed with the end result and claimed it looked more like a shaggy rug than a lifelike depiction of his beloved.
He nevertheless did use the doll in his studio and made numerous paintings and drawings of Alma before disposing of it following a raucous party in his house which saw the doll beheaded in the garden.
The exhibition is a collaboration with the Leopold Museum, Vienna and runs at the Kunsthaus Zurich from Dec. 14-March 10.