Oskar Kokoschka

Knight Errant (detail). 1915. Oil on canvas. The Guggenheim Museum, New York.


The Woman Question

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

March 14, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016

Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015

Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014

Recent Acquisitions

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 2013

Art Basel 2013

Galerie St. Etienne, Hall 2.0, Booth D11

June 13, 2013 - June 16, 2013

Face Time

Self and Identity in Expressionist Portraiture

April 9, 2013 - June 28, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 17, 2012 - October 13, 2012

The Lady and the Tramp

Images of Women in Austrian and German Art

October 11, 2011 - December 30, 2011

Transforming Reality

Pattern and Design in Modern and Self-Taught Art

January 15, 2008 - March 8, 2008

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 5, 2007 - September 28, 2007

Who Paid the Piper?

The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

March 8, 2007 - May 26, 2007

Fairy Tale, Myth and Fantasy

Approaches to Spirituality in Art

December 7, 2006 - February 3, 2007

More Than Coffee was Served

Café Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Weimar Germany

September 19, 2006 - November 25, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 6, 2006 - September 8, 2006

* Coming of Age

Egon Schiele and the Modernist Culture of Youth

November 15, 2005 - January 7, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

June 7, 2005 - September 9, 2005

Every Picture Tells a Story

The Narrative Impulse in Modern and Contemporary Art

April 5, 2005 - May 27, 2005

65th Anniversary Exhibition, Part I

Austrian and German Expressionism

October 28, 2004 - January 8, 2005

Body and Soul

Expressionism and the Human Figure

October 7, 2003 - January 3, 2004

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 24, 2003 - September 12, 2003

In Search of the "Total Artwork"

Viennese Art and Design 1897–1932

April 8, 2003 - June 14, 2003

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 25, 2002 - September 20, 2002

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoscha

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

November 23, 2001 - January 5, 2002

The "Black-and-White" Show

Expressionist Graphics in Austria & Germany

September 20, 2001 - November 10, 2001

Art with an Agenda

Politics, Persuasion, Illustration and Decoration

April 10, 2001 - June 16, 2001

Recent Acquisitions (And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 20, 2000 - September 8, 2000

From Façade to Psyche

Turn-of-the-Century Portraiture in Austria & Germany

March 28, 2000 - June 10, 2000

Saved From Europe

In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

November 6, 1999 - January 8, 2000

Recent Acquisitions

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998


Repression and Revolt in Modern Art

March 26, 1998 - May 30, 1998

Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997

That Way Madness Lies

Expressionism and the Art of Gugging

January 14, 1997 - March 15, 1997

The Viennese Line

Art and Design Circa 1900

November 18, 1996 - January 4, 1997

Breaking All The Rules

Art in Transition

June 11, 1996 - September 6, 1996

The Fractured Form

Expressionism and the Human Body

November 15, 1995 - January 6, 1996

Recent Acquisitions

June 20, 1995 - September 8, 1995

55th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Otto Kallir

June 7, 1994 - September 2, 1994

Symbolism and the Austrian Avant Garde

Klimt, Schiele and their Contemporaries

November 16, 1993 - January 8, 1994

Recent Acquisitions

June 8, 1993 - September 3, 1993

The Dance of Death

Images of Mortality in German Art

January 19, 1993 - March 13, 1993

Naive Visions/Art Nouveau and Expressionism/Sue Coe: The Road to the White House

May 19, 1992 - September 4, 1992

Richard Gerstl/Oskar Kokoschka

March 17, 1992 - May 9, 1992

Viennese Graphic Design

From Secession to Expressionism

November 19, 1991 - January 11, 1992

The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, drawings and prints

January 22, 1991 - March 2, 1991

Recent Acquisitions

June 12, 1990 - August 31, 1990

The Narrative in Art

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990

Galerie St. Etienne

A History in Documents and Pictures

June 20, 1989 - September 8, 1989

Fifty Years Galerie St. Etienne: An Overview

February 14, 1989 - April 1, 1989

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

April 12, 1988 - May 27, 1988

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

April 7, 1987 - October 31, 1987

Oskar Kokoschka and His Time

November 25, 1986 - January 31, 1987

Viennese Design and Wiener Werkstätte

September 23, 1986 - November 8, 1986

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, Drawings and Prints

May 27, 1986 - September 13, 1986

Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 1986

The Art of Giving

December 3, 1985 - January 18, 1986

Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985

European and American Landscapes

June 4, 1985 - September 13, 1985

Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985

Arnold Schoenberg's Vienna

November 13, 1984 - January 5, 1985

Early and Late

Drawings, Paintings & Prints from Academicism to Expressionism

June 1, 1983 - September 2, 1983

Aspects of Modernism

June 1, 1982 - September 3, 1982

The Human Perspective

Recent Acquisitions

March 16, 1982 - May 15, 1982

Austria's Expressionism

April 21, 1981 - May 30, 1981

The Wiener Werkstätte

November 16, 1966

25th Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

October 17, 1964

Austrian Expressionists

January 6, 1964

Group Show

October 15, 1962

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin

March 14, 1961

Watercolors and Drawings by Austrian Artists from the Dial Collection

May 2, 1960

European and American Expressionists

September 22, 1959

* Oskar Kokoschka

October 28, 1958

* Oskar Kokoschka

November 29, 1954

Lovis Corinth, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

May 27, 1953

* Oskar Kokoschka

March 30, 1949

Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

September 15, 1945

* Oskar Kokoschka

Aspects of His Art

March 31, 1943

* Oskar Kokoschka

January 9, 1940

* Oskar Kokoschka

March 1, 1939

Austrian Art

February 1, 1939

Important Paintings

November 29, 1937

Modern Austrian Art

June 13, 1936

Anton Faistauer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

June 1, 1933

* Oskar Kokoschka

October 22, 1932

* Oskar Kokoschka Part II

October 13, 1924

* Oskar Kokoschka Part I

June 24, 1924


March 17, 1992 - May 9, 1992


Gerstl, Richard

Kokoschka, Oskar



Richard Gerstl (1883-1908) and Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) are perhaps the two most idiosyncratic artists to emerge from the cultural ferment of fin-de-siècle Vienna. Unlike Egon Schiele, whose essentially linear Expressionism was a direct outgrowth of the tradition established by Gustav Klimt, they achieved a decisive break with the past. In this, Gerstl and Kokoschka were intellectually (and, as it turned out, socially) allied with the enclave of self-styled iconoclasts who gathered around the architect Adolf Loos and the composer Arnold Schönberg. This group was firmly committed to bridging the gap between truth and pretense by extricating artistic expression from the superficial dictates of conventional structure.


In many fields of endeavor (not just architecture and music, but also in such areas as psychology and linguistic philosophy), Viennese iconoclasts revolutionized modern thinking. The contributions of Gerstl and Kokoschka to the visual arts were no less groundbreaking. Both artists liberated the means of artistic expression (such as color and brushstroke) from the stranglehold of academic verisimilitude, creating paintings that captured the very soul of their subject matter. Gerstl, twenty-five when he committed suicide in 1908 , was possibly the most advanced artist in Europe, inventor of a style that directly anticipated the Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s. Kokoschka, whose life was as long as Gerstl's was short, had a career comparable in scope to that of Picasso, and no less central to the long-term evolution of modern art.


Given the pivotal importance of Gerstl and Kokoscka, they are today surprisingly underappreciated. Kokoschka, who enjoyed a robust reputation in the 1940s and '50s, fell into something of an eclipse during the last years of his career, which (again like Picasso's) was just too complex and varied to be easily graspable. Gerstl, on the other hand, has been handicapped by the relative paucity of his work, which until now has never been seen in any substantial quantity outside Austria.


Of the two artists, Gerstl was probably the most overtly rebellious. From an early age, his schooling was disrupted by chronic discipline problems, and this situation was only exacerbated when, in 1898, he entered the prestigious Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Here he had the ill fortune to be admitted to the class of Christian Griepenkerl, a notoriously harsh disciplinarian. After three years of intermittent sparring, Gerstl left in 1901 to pursue his studies independently. He returned briefly to Griepenkerl's class in 1904, but soon transferred to a more liberal professor, Heinrich Lefler.


It is partly owing to his innate belligerence that Gerstl is not better known, for he succeeded in evading all opportunities to publicly show his work. He is said to have cancelled at least two exhibitions, once because he refused to have his work seen alongside that of Klimt. Disdaining contact with most artists, Gerstl was instead drawn to the company of musicians. Thus it was that, around 1905, he entered Schönberg's circle.


Gerstl's encounter with Schönberg was to be crucial in more ways than one. Schönberg, during the period of their friendship, was in the final stages of "emancipating dissonance" from the confines of structural harmony, and Gerstl must have sensed a parallel in his own efforts to free brushstroke from the strictures of realistic representation. The only major Austrian painter to fully assimilate the lessons of Impressionism, Gerstl found a key expressive tool in Pointillism's painterly flecks. Gradually, his brushstrokes became looser, his forms increasingly fragmented until, toward the end of his life, they verged on abstraction.


Unfortunately, just as Gerstl was reaching his creative peak, his personal life began to disintegrate. For an indeterminate period of time, he had pursued a secret affair with Schönberg's wife, Mathilde, but in the summer of 1908 the two were discovered. Forced to break with both his lover and the Schönberg circle, Gerstl plunged into suicidal despair. On the night of November 4, he dropped a noose around his neck and thrust a butcher's knife into his heart.


Kokoschka, who made his public debut at the 1908 Kunstschau (Art Show) can hardly have known Gerstl, yet he was, nonetheless, pursuing a similar road. During the preceding four years of study at the Vienna School of Applied Art, Kokoschka was very much under the influence of the Wiener Werkstätte, whose principles dominated the curriculum there. However, some time between 1908 and 1909, he developed a raw, primitive painting style totally at odds with the Werkstätte's decorative proclivities. Eschewing all attempts at flattery, Kokoschka's innovative portraits honed in on the subject's inner essence.


Loos, sworn enemy of the Wiener Werkstätte, sensed in Kokoschka a kindred (and perhaps ideologically useful) spirit. He encouraged the young artist to break with the Werkstätte and helped him obtain portrait commissions. In 1910, he also arranged for him to collaborate on the avant-garde Berlin periodical Der Sturm. Partly as a result of the increased exposure provided by Der Sturm, and in part through Loos's connections, Kokoschka also began to exhibit regularly in Germany.


During the years prior to World War I, Kokoschka enjoyed enviable access to a number of prominent portrait sitters, but this patronage was to some extent illusory. It often turned out that these sitters were dissatisfied with the artist's finished paintings, and Loos ended up buying many of them. Then, too, Loos had a tendency to capitalize on his protegé's outsider status, so that in the end Kokoschka was trapped between a pretense of revolutionary rebellion and a very natural desire for acceptance. In later years, Kokoschka would exaggerate his squabbles with the Austrian authorities--for they formed an appealing legend--but at the time, such attacks hurt.


Artistically, Kokoschka moved rapidly to the forefront of Expressionism following his 1909 stylistic breakthrough. The muted, scraped surfaces of his first canvases were soon replaced with a more buttery impasto, in which can be detected the influences of such varied artists as El Greco, Titian, Romako, Kirchner and Meidner. Koksochka, essentially self-taught as a painter, passed instinctually through a series of past and current styles, which he immediately transformed into a personal idiom. After World War I, he settled in Dresden, and it was here that he first fully assimilated the bright, Fauvistic palette of the German Expressionists. With this, the long process of self-education was complete. From here on, color would be a central aspect of Kokoschka's work, which became progressively freer and more spontaneous. His style was consolidated during a period of protracted travel from 1924-34. Painting outdoors or from his hotel balcony, and constantly racing the changeable light and weather, the artist developed a rapid shorthand approach that combined the spontaneity of watercolor technique with the complex paint densities possible only in oil.


Even as Kokoschka enjoyed increasing fame and prosperity, the world which had nurtured him was coming apart. He had, in some ways, felt homeless ever since the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. The political instability of Weimar-era Germany did not offer a secure refuge, and with the rise of Hitler in the 1930s, he saw his work banned as "degenerate." In 1934, Kokoschka settled in Prague (then one of the most prosperous capitals of central Europe), but following the Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938, it became clear that Czechoslovakia was doomed. Later that same year, Kokoschka emigrated to England with a young Czech law student, Olda Palkovská, whom he married in 1941.


Following World War II, Kokoschka again saw his star ascendant, as many in Austria and Germany sought to disassociate themselves from the Nazi past by singing the praises of a "degenerate" artist. Nevertheless, he resisted ardent pleas by the Austrians to reclaim his citizenship, and instead settled in the Swiss town of Villeneuve. His achievement would eventually find a resonant echo in the Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s, but during the last years of his life Kokoschka suffered from the relative marginalization of the Germanic tradition. Were Expressionism to be accorded the same prominence as ancillary developments in France, Kokoschka's central role in shaping the former movement would probably be more fully appreciated. As it was, he died in 1980 an inveterate outsider, still somehow following the rebel path laid out by Loos so many years earlier.