Kokoschka, Oskar, b. Pöchlarn (Lower Austria), * March 1, 1886, d. Villeneuve near Montreux (Switzerland), ? Feb. 22, 1980, painter, graphic artist, poet.
Studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Craft (Kunstgewerbeschule)under A. v. Kenner, C. O. Czeschka und B. Löffler, worked in the Wiener Werkstätte from 1907; contributed to the magazine “Der Sturm” in Berlin from 1910, taught at the Dresden Academy 1919-1929, travelled widely in Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Worked in Prague 1934-1938, emigrated to London, settled in Villeneuve in 1953.
Early work dominated by the linear style of the Vienna Secession (“Die träumenden Knaben”, 1908, narrative in verse illustrated with his own colour lithographs), his contribution to the “Sturm” earned him early recognition as an important Expressionist (portrait of A. Loos, 1909, “Die Windsbraut”, 1914).
Colour, his chief means of expression during his time in Dresden (“The Power of Music”, “Die Macht der Musik”, 1920, “Selbstbildnis mit gekreuzten Armen”, 1922/23), loses importance in the town views painted during his travels.
The great cycle of paintings of towns and landscapes seen almost from a bird´s eye view (“Weltlandschaften”) can be regarded as unique in 20th century art. In his portraits, town views and his (often political) allegories - motifs and themes which also dominate his late work - a revival of baroque principles of creation can be noticed (especially those of F. A. Maulbertsch).
1953 K. established the Schule des Sehens (School of Seeing), a seminar at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg.
In literature K. is considered the pioneer of Expressionist drama. The use of strong effects and pathetic language is as characteristic as the absence of a coherent plot and the breaking-away from traditional genres by introducing dance and pantomime. Among his most important dramas are “Sphinx und Strohmann” (1907, under the title “Hiob” 1917), “Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen” (“Murder Hope of Women” 1909, set to music by P. Hindemith 1921), “Der brennende Dornbusch” (1911) and “Orpheus und Eurydike” (“Orpheus and Eurydice” 1915, set to music by E. Krenek).
By way of contrast, his later prose shows a style of accentuated sobriety in which reality and dream are interwoven. (“Mein Leben”, autobiography 1971). Oskar Kokoschka Centre in the archives building of the University of Applied Art in Vienna.