091213: Leopold Museum Kokoschka – The Self in Focus

Leopold Museum Kokoschka – The Self in Focus 04.10.2013 – 27.01.2014 Wildling, arsonist, contemporary witness By Daniela Gregori The differences between two people could not be greater. One, rigid as if sculptured, wearing a pince-nez, the hair combed precisely to cover the bare head, stares almost with suspicion at his counterpart. Will the serene contemporary witness with the concise skull and short hair start to shake the older man - or is this merely a hearty back-slapping among old friends? As a matter of fact, both men have known each other for a long time, half a century to be precise. The encounter took place 1955 at the Vienna Secession – one of them is Josef Hoffmann, the other Oskar Kokoschka. Hoffmann was one of the people responsible for the great art show 1908, the first exhibition in which the big talent participated. Their further lives could not have been more different. Hoffmann had stayed and arranged himself with the authorities without ever being hurt, while Kokoschka emigrated, but he had actually already left the country much earlier. He had been to places that were relevant both for the moment as well as for history. He had gone to Dresden, spent some time in Paris, lived in Prague, fled to London, taught in the USA and finally spent his remaining years in Villeneuve. “Kokoschka – The Self in Focus” is the title of the exhibition that was realised in co-operation with the Oskar Kokoschka Centre at the University for Applied Arts, home to 5,000 photographs from the artist’s legacy. It is a remarkable interplay between the 220 photos by partly renowned photographers, 32 portraits, diverse graphics and documents, completed by film and sound recordings, which offers a very lively overview of the life and work of a contemporary witness spanning almost one century. The parting director, Tobias Natter, did not conceptualize the exhibition alone – Bernadette Reinhold, Patrick Werkner and Franz Smola also contributed their competence. Yet nothing similar was offered in this house prior to Natter’s directorship and one must fear that this will not be the case again after he left. Especially in Austria, Kokoschka was marked as a “wildling” in Vienna around 1900, later he returned to Salzburg, where he lead the Summer Academy from1953 for ten years. Beyond the borders he was known for his cityscapes, and in Germany as a portraitist of prominent politicians – and that with continuous success. This made him the “most important contemporary painter” in the eyes of German art experts. In 1967, when the first edition of the magazine “Eltern” (Parents) was published, a press photographer called Sven Simon (Axel Springer junior), staged a series of well-known individuals in the gear of their childhood “dream profession”. Kokoschka was also among them. Two versions existed: one showing him as a magician and one as an arsonist. It was the second one that was published. Leopold Museum 1070 Vienna, MuseumsQuartier Tel: +43 1 525 70-0 Fax: +43 1 525 70-1500 email: leopoldmuseum@leopoldmuseum.org http://www.leopoldmuseum.org Opening hours: Wed – Mon: 11 - 19 hours, Fri: 11 - 21 hours

Leopold Museum
1070 Wien, Museumsquartier
Tel: +43 1 525 70-0, Fax: +43 1 525 70-1500
Email: leopoldmuseum@leopoldmuseum.org
Öffnungszeiten: Mi-So 10-18 h

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