“True dreams and visions should be as visible to the artist as the phenomena of the objective world.” The well-said and inspiring quote for young artists and the belief of famous artist Oskar Kokoschka defines the wisdom of an artist towards his power of vision and desire to paint every inch of the world. The artist is known for developing a new movement into the chain of artistic styles followed in that century. He brought a new impression of art and painted his art into bold Expressionism styles while the vision and style of art during the century was moving on the track of more ease, soft and decorative style. He painted his composition with hard brush strokes of visible and bright colours to mark an impression of his art style on the viewers.

Life of an Artist: Oskar Kokoschka Sheet1
Oskar Kokoschka_Courtesy ©www.factinate.com

Early life; the beginning of the artist’s journey

Oskar Kokoschka was born in 1886 in Pochlarn, a small town situated on the Danube, 100 kilometres west of Vienna. He completed his education in the school of science and language although his interest was in the field of arts and classical literature which got a chance and enhancement in the University Of Applied Arts Of Vienna, where he learned about the styles like, Art Nouveau and Jugendstil and from there he stepped into his journey of arts and design where he also participated and worked as a graphic designer and designed postcards, bookplates with the blend of human figures as diagrams of decorative motif. 

In 1908 Kokoschka was offered to exhibit his poem formulated by 8 lithographs named “The Dreaming Boys” in an exhibition at Kunstchau, by the secessionist Gustav Klimt who visualized him as the leading talent among the young generation of that time. His later work, Mörder Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, the Hope of Women) created riots and he was forced to move out of the place which diverted his journey toward Switzerland but didn’t stop his work, he sketched illustrations for his work Murderer, the hope of women, for the journal De Sturm which promoted German expressionism and Avant-garde style.

Life of an Artist: Oskar Kokoschka Sheet2
Oskar Kokoschka with his painting_Courtesy ©www.hamhigh.co.uk

Latter works; Developing the vision and style

After the exhibitions of Vienna and Berlin, which exhibited nude girls’ portraits, and artworks from an established artist, Kokoschka stepped on the marks of the Avant-garde style for the journal De Sturm and followed a bohemian lifestyle which developed him to be a notorious artist. His works and style of illustrations labelled him as a criminal for whom he was degraded by a hostile press; his viewers portrayed him as a controversial person after visiting his exhibitions.

Kokoschka derived his inspiration for most of his later artworks from his love interest Alma Malher and dedicated his almost 450 paintings and artworks to Alma. His well-known and most established painting from (1913-14) The Tempest (or The Bride of wind) is a portrait of two lovers sketched with bold brush strokes in grey and blue composition, the direction of brush strokes adds a pattern spin and wave to the painting. All of his portraits and landscapes were not only a blend of a style but he rather poured his emotions into the layers of his paintings. The art of printing the ideas and emotions onto a paper is the primary ethics and later establishment of an artist.

Life of an Artist: Oskar Kokoschka Sheet3
The Tempest portrait_Courtesy ©www.Britannica.com

Compositions of the World War

The wound and the scars of the world war evoked the inner artist of Kokoschka to work persistently on his artworks, and he wrote his war experiences and plotted them into three stages of play. In Orpheus and Eurydike, he wrote scenic terrorism of war and devastation. Later the impacts of war and the Russian Revolution impacted Kokoschka; he disillusioned the revolution with humanitarianism and considered it an exterminatory source, and wrote “Dresden Manifesto” in 1920. The effect of war deprived humanitarians of writings and art for several years.

In the period 1919-23, during his travel to European countries and the Middle East, he painted a series of landscapes as a reformation of his artistic life; his brush strokes this time blended the panoramic views of the cities and skylines and delivered the atmosphere of the cities, some of his famous works are – London: Large Thames View (1926), Jerusalem (1929-30) and Prague: Charles Bridge (1934).

Life of an Artist: Oskar Kokoschka Sheet4
London Large Thames View artwork_Courtesy ©www.tumblr.com
Jerusalem artwork_Courtesy ©Sierra Adkins
Jerusalem artwork_Courtesy ©Sierra Adkins
Prague Charles Bridge artwork_Courtesy ©Etsy
Prague Charles Bridge artwork_Courtesy ©Etsy

Financial breakdown

During World War II, Kokoschka battled in his financial life extremely while he was carrying his livelihood in London; the situation worsened when he was forced to paint in watercolours, a less expensive medium than oil, and worked on his art summing up the anti-war scenes in his paintings, some of which included-The Red Egg (1940-41), Anschluss- Alice in Wonderland (1942), What We Are Fighting For (1943). These artworks explained his inner voice of distress and sufferings of humanity but did not include any narrow ideological expressions of the wars and controversies.

Life of an Artist: Oskar Kokoschka Sheet7
The Red Egg artwork_Courtesy ©Theodor Rosenberg
Anschluss- Alice in wonderland artwork_Courtesy ©Frank Eeltink
Anschluss- Alice in wonderland artwork_Courtesy ©Frank Eeltink
What We Are Fighting For, artwork_Courtesy ©www.wahooart.com
What We Are Fighting For, artwork_Courtesy ©www.wahooart.com

Legacy of his work; Recognition

His journey in art and design was paved with difficulties, struggles, and suffering. He was never praised for his style of work and had never been part of the movement led for or led by the artists of that century. His works went out of style in the decades and established to deliver a style of art; his self-made portraits and illustrations and their psychological probe reflection in artwork were later praised for their beauty and structure in his well-known and inspiring works for the young artist, he left an impression of an artist visualization in the hearts of many students and generation artist specifically the handling of his brush strokes to discover the expressionist art style were earlier rejected and later became the concept for many contemporary artists to paint the brush strokes in their artworks. 

The Art Council 1962 book_Courtesy ©www.icollector.com
The Art Council 1962 book_Courtesy ©www.icollector.com


  1. https://www.britannica.com/biography
  2.  https://www.theartstory.org/artist/kokoschka-oskar/

Divyanshi Sahu is a young ,passionate architect and co-author of book –“philosophies from not so philosophers ” the connectivity of her thoughts with the architectural diversity , drives her to explore and write more about the variations of the field.