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Oskar Kokoschka

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

EXHIBITIONS (*INDICATES SOLO EXHIBITION)

The Woman Question

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

March 14, 2017 - June 30, 2017


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


Art Basel 2016

June 16, 2016 - June 19, 2016


ADAA Art Show 2016

March 1, 2016 - March 6, 2016


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015


Recent Acquisitions

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015


Art Basel 2015

June 17, 2015 - June 21, 2015


ADAA Art Show 2015

March 3, 2015 - March 8, 2015


Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015


Alternate Histories

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


Art Basel 2014

June 19, 2014 - June 22, 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


Taboo

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


OSKAR KOKOSCHKA AND HIS TIME

November 25, 1986 - January 31, 1987

ARTISTS

Gerstl, Richard

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kubin, Alfred

Schiele, Egon

 

ESSAY

The year 1986 seems to have been dedicated to the triumph of Austrian modernism. In the wake of highly successful exhibitions in Venice, Vienna and Paris, the Museum of Modern Art's spectacular Vienna 1900 was the hit of the summer season in New York. Now, the year concludes with the Guggenheim Museum's massive Kokoschka retrospective (celebrating the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth), an exhibition that has also enjoyed great popularity during its earlier European showings in London and Zurich. The Galerie St. Etienne, which mounted Kokoschka's first American one-man show in 1940 and followed up with the first solo presentations of the work of Egon Schiele (1941), Alfred Kubin (1941) and Gustav Klimt (1959), is naturally delighted by the warmth of the reception now accorded Austrian art. It is in celebration of this long-overdue recognition, and specifically as a complement to the Guggenheim showing, that we have organized Oskar Kokoschka and His Time.

 

As the gallery which introduced the modern Austrian masters to this country, we are often asked to comment upon the current Vienna "boom." Having observed interest in these artists gradually build over the last forty-seven years, we are less likely than some newcomers to see the present situation as a sudden fad. The question, "What makes Viennese art so popular today?" is, to us, less relevant than the question, "What took so long?" The fact is that Austria has been the victim of a sustained cultural blockade, engendered by the two world wars and exacerbated by that nation's subordinate position within German-speaking Europe. As a result, the French tradition has tended to dominate American perceptions of modernism and has provided the theoretical underpinnings for the movement's later manifestations in this country. The Austrian tradition, on the other hand, was far less influential, because two of its leading exponents, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, both died in 1918, and most of their major oils--cumbersome and costly to transport-- remained in Austria. In contrast to art, achievements in the world of ideas or even music were far easier to tuck into one's luggage, more readily accessible through books and lectures, and the major Austrian innovators, such as Freud and Schoenberg, lived well beyond the first world war. That Austrian art has struggled to the fore despite these formidable obstacles is an indication of its abiding strength and importance.

 

Of the artists who have benefited from the Austrian arts revival, Oskar Kokoschka has, surprisingly, often seemed to be the odd-man-out. The trendy fin-de-siecle aura lingers less palpably around his oeuvre than it does around the legacies of Klimt, Schiele and others of their generation. Kokoschka, alone among his famous peers, survived into the late 20th century, and with the passage of time he inevitably grew away from the formative style of his youth. As a survivor, he did not suffer from the period of eclipse that befell his compatriots. Instead, the artist grew old with the century--at once venerable-- but, especially toward the end of his lengthy life (he died just a few days shy of his ninety-fourth birthday), a little out of it. In the case of Kokoschka, what is required is not so much a revival as a reevaluation.

 

As might be expected of an artist whose life spans nearly the full length of our century, Kokoschka's career may be broken into fairly distinct phases. During his years as a student at Vienna's Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts), he came under the influence of Carl Otto Czeschka and Berthold Löffler, two teachers who had introduced a new figurative verve to the decorative arts. Bright, poster-like colors, bold stylization, and childlike whimsy characterized the work of many of his classmates, but Kokoschka channeled these impulses in a totally original direction when he published his adult fairy tale, Die träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys), in 1908. By wedding the new boldness with the subliminal sexuality that lurked in Klimt's paintings, Kokoschka anticipated the Expressionist revolution that would soon shake Vienna. By 1909, aided and abetted by the architect Adolf Loos, he had embarked on a series of highly charged portraits that were the direct antithesis of Klimt's gilded beauties. His characterisitic idiom of raw, scraped surfaces and muted colors soon became the rage among young artists (Kokoschka was particularly bitter about what he considered the plagiarism of his colleague Max Oppenheimer) and had a profound imapct upon Egon Schiele. However, it would be an overstatement to credit Kokoschka with singlehandedly introducing Expressionism to Austria, for the tendency was clearly present well before he came on the scene. The work of Munch and van Gogh, exhibited sporadically in Vienna during the first decade of the century, helped shape the vision of the iconoclastic Richard Gerstl, whose wild, almost abstract paintings predated Kokoschka's somewhat tamer efforts by several years. (Gerstl's suicide in 1908 at the age of twenty-five prevented his ground-breaking achievement from being generally ackowledged.) Clearly there was an Expressionist virus in the air; Kokoschka was merely one of the first to catch it.

 

The elements that contributed to the Expressionist breakthrough in Austria were at work simultaneously in Germany, but no direct cause-and-effect relationship can be said to link the movements in the two countries. While the advent of the style can be traced back to the founding of Die Brücke in Dresden in 1905, Vienna enjoyed a far closer artistic relationship with Munich, where Expressionism did not coalesce until the formation of Der Blaue Reiter group (including the Austrian Alfred Kubin) in 1911. Ultimately, it was not Dresden, Munich or Vienna that took the lead in cementing the Expressionist movement, but rather Berlin, with its active network of galleries and its avant-garde periodicals such as Der Sturm and Die Aktion. In 1910, on Loos's advice, Kokoschka left his conservative hometown for the more receptive climate of Berlin, and from then until the outbreak of World War I, he divided his time between the German city and Vienna. During this period, he developed his technique as a painter, experimenting with the thicker impastos that were favored by some of his German contemporaries, but retaining the muted palette of the early Vienna years. Only after the war, when he moved to Dresden, did Kokoschka realize his full potential as a colorist. The bright, chunky forms of the so-called Dresden period replaced, once and for all, any distinctly Viennese qualities in Kokoschka's work. From this moment, he became absorbed in a supranational movement, and in fact, he never again lived in Vienna for any extended period of time.

 

In his mature years, Kokoschka developed a loose, gestural brushstroke and an equally freewheeling approach to drawing that marked his style for the rest of his life. He also expanded his range of subject matter, adding ambitious allegories and landscapes to a repertoire that had previously centered on portraiture. After leaving Dresden in 1924, he executed a major series of canvases depicting European scenes and cities that reflected his new role as a wanderer and citizen of the world. This self-imposed refugee status was made permanent by Hitler's annexation of Austria in 1938. Shortly before the Anschluss, Kokoschka fled to England, where he remained for the duration of World War II. He did not find a stable base until 1953, when he established himself in Villeneuve, Switzerland. It was here that he made his final home (with extended excursions to Salzburg, where he conducted his famous "School for Seeing") and here, in 1980, that he died.

 

Pushing Expressionism to an extreme that was representational rather than abstract, Kokoschka ran counter to the trend of the postwar years, and his abiding concern with myth invoked an age-old tradition that was, for the moment, out of fashion. It may be that, even today, we cannot altogether "see" the full implications of Kokoschka's oeuvre, for certain lingering biases obstruct our view of his later creations. Nonetheless, it must be said that Kokoschka's is one of the truly monumental artistic achievements of this century, rivalling that of Picasso in length, if not in breadth. As such, Kokoschka's oeuvre must be taken as an organic whole, for there is an integrity and consistency of purpose even in the most unprepossessing of the artist's works. If, as may well be the case, the once dominant formalist tradition is now on the wane, one would do well to look to Kokoschka as an example of the true potential of expressive figuration.