Kokoschka

A Life in Art

Rüdiger Görner

Kokoschka

Rüdiger Görner

Distributed for Haus Publishing

Translated by Debra Marmor and Herbert Danner
320 pages | 3 maps | 6 x 9
Cloth $29.95 ISBN: 9781912208814 Published December 2020 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe

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.

Contents
The Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka achieved world fame with his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. In this first English-language biography, Ru¨diger Görner depicts the artist in all his fascinating and contradictory complexity. He traces Kokoschka’s path from bête noire of the bourgeoisie and a so-called ‘hunger artist’ to a wealthy and cosmopolitan political and critical artist who played a major role in shaping the European art scene of the twentieth century and whose relevance is undiminished to this day. Kokoschka’s achievements as a playwright, essayist and poet bear witness to his remarkable literary talent. Music, too, played a central role in his work, and his passion for teaching led him to establish in 1953 the School of Seeing, an unconventional art school conceived to revive humanist ideals in the horrific aftermath of war.
Review Quotes
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Görner narrates  . . . in a compelling way.”
Die Welt
“With appropriately rhapsodic descriptions, Görner shows how incredibly . . . worldly this petty bourgeois from Pöchlarn has been.”
Catherine Hug, curator of Kunsthaus Zürich
"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."
Johann Konrad Eberlein, an Austrian art historian and was the director of the Institute of Art History, University of Graz
"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."
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