The Untimely Modernist
Distributed for Haus Publishing
The Untimely Modernist
The Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980) achieved global fame with his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. In this first English-language biography, Rüdiger Görner depicts the artist in all his fascinating and contradictory complexity. He traces Kokoschka’s path from bête noire of the bourgeoisie and “hunger artist” who had to flee the Nazis to a wealthy and cosmopolitan political and critical artist who played a significant role in shaping the European art scene of the twentieth century and whose relevance is undiminished to this day.
In Kokoschka: A Life in Art, Görner emphasizes the artist’s versatility. Kokoschka, although best known for his expressionistic portraits and landscapes, was more than a mere visual artist: his achievements as a playwright, essayist, and poet bear witness to a remarkable literary talent. Music, too, played a central role in his work, and a passion for teaching led him to establish in 1953 the School of Seeing, an unconventional art school intended to revive humanist ideals in the horrific aftermath of war. This biography shows brilliantly how all the pieces of Kokoschka’s disparate interests and achievements cohered in the richly creative life of a singular artist.
320 pages | 3 maps | 6 x 9
“Görner narrates . . . in a compelling way.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“With appropriately rhapsodic descriptions, Görner shows how incredibly . . . worldly this petty bourgeois from Pöchlarn has been.”
"Kokoschka was a leading figure in the Central European expressionist movement. . . . Gӧrner presents a serviceable narrative that captures the 'inner tension, excitement and drama' of Kokoschka’s career."
"An unconventional but long expected approach to Kokoschka’s rich oeuvre: Rüdiger Görner does not restrict his considerations to the painter and his formal characteristics, but rather situates Kokoschka’s singular character against a social, literary and political background in a turmoiled Europe. As rarely so meticulously before him, Görner shows with concrete examples the evident importance that Kokoschka’s affinity to literature and politics have played in his creative process. Görner brings light into how contemporaries such as Thomas Mann and Karl Kraus looked at Kokoschka’s oeuvre. This new biography adequately enables a holistic look at Kokoschka as a whole person, with his paintings, writings, enemies and lovers, agonies and hopes."
Catherine Hug, curator of Kunsthaus Zürich
"This biography is an enjoyable reading experience. Görner does not separate art from life. The artist was a driven man, always trying to cross any given border, be it moral, political or social. It is part of the veracity of his pieces of art that they hide none of these frictions. The book is fully convincing as the author pursues the same principle. Görner presents the entire Oskar Kokoschka, perhaps for the first time – and thus makes an unforgettable impression on the reader."
Johann Konrad Eberlein, an Austrian art historian and was the director of the Institute of Art History, University of Graz
"[Görner] paints a multifaceted image of Kokoschka as a person who was always en route and hardly ever arriving, traveling and 'schooling his vision' around the world."
New Art Examiner