Kokoschka, Life and Work

Kokoschka, Life and Work

Kokoschka, Life and Work

Kokoschka, Life and Work

Excerpt

The last comprehensive monograph on Oskar Kokoschka appeared in 1925, when the artist was thirty-nine years old. The following twenty years of his development have never been extensively recorded, nor have most of his latest works been reproduced. No book on Kokoschka has been published in the English language. As he has now spent five years in England, and in view of the fact that a number of works by him have lately entered public collections in this country as well as in America, it seems timely that an English publication should be devoted to him.

The story of Kokoschka's life, in its main features, is told here as he tells it himself. It is not possible, however, to rely on one's memory for every detail, particularly in relation to episodes of thirty years ago. There were no diaries, no letters, no private records of his works that could be used to fill the gaps. This book could therefore hardly have been written without the basis provided by Paul Westheim's biography, which has recorded and illustrated Kokoschka's work up to 1925. Westheim's dates have in some cases been reconsidered, but his work has made it possible to reconstruct Kokoschka's early years.

The fascination of Kokoschka's life--and of his work--consists to a great extent in the phantasy which he brings to play on mundane realities, and it is particularly difficult for a biographer to disentangle the plain facts from their colourful transformation in the imagination of the artist. History must inevitably be more prosaic than poetry, and Kokoschka himself would be the first to admit that some of his stories should be considered as significant fable rather than as sober truth. The artist alone has the responsibility for the passages which he has written.

Kokoschka's recollections have been supplemented by those of his friends. It is obvious that, out of consideration for living people, not all the available material could be used. The restrictions imposed by discretion are regrettable in the case of an artist whose work is most closely connected with the circumstances of his personal life.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.