As I was looking through a textbook that focused on Modern Art, I came across an artist I have never heard of. His name was Oskar Kokoschka. He was born in March of 1886 in Vienna, Austria, and died in February 1980.

His work comes from a movement called Self-Examination, which was basically the same as Expressionism. He wasn’t exactly associated with the group, he was more of an independent who’s work was close/the same as Expressionism.

One of the artworks that he created, which really stuck out to me, was the Portrait of Adolf Loos, 1909.

I found three different types of shading for this artwork:


Image from The Edge Galerie


Image from The City Review


Image from Pinterest

The one I will be concentrating on is the 3rd piece since it is the one that I have in my textbook.

Just a side note, Adolf Loos is Kokoschkas’s friend and he is a modern architect. He is well known for the Steiner House, which was almost revolutionary in it’s time. This was one of the works, along with many, that changed the system of architecture, where buildings began to go up in height instead of out in width.

Based on the coloring, this portrait can seem a bit gloomy but in a way it’s not. Kokoschka used a technique called Black Portraits, where he created a dark background in order to concentrate on the individual. The aim was to expose something from the individual, such as emotion, expression, etc. One can see that Loos seems a bit tense through his painting. Maybe the aim of the work was to show the natural tension that Loos expressed.

Personally, I admire this painting. It kind of reminds of a mix of Caravaggio and van Gogh. I see Caravaggio because of the dark background. Also, I see van Gogh through the constant shade of blue throughout (in the 3rd piece). This constant shade reminds me of one of van Gogh’s Self Portraits. The light blue here dominates the painting. In Kokoschka’s painting the dark blue is almost everywhere, but it’s not dominating the whole painting like van Gogh’s is.

Feature Image is a Self-Portrait of Kokoschka from the Leopold Museum.

5 thoughts on “Kokoschka

  1. Well, I had heard of this artist and would suspect that artists like Egon Schiele and Franz Marc probably overshadowed him. However, one can find his work in major museums such as MOMA, Tate Modern, and the Guggenheim. Kokoschka has a distinct style that isn’t nearly as universal in appeal as other expressionists such as Munch or Klimt.

    1. I haven’t heard of Egon Schiele, but I have learned of Marc! And that’s true, there are probably more artists who are underrated but had some impact in art groups/movements. Also, I agree. Kokoschka’s style isn’t universal, which may also be why some people don’t know of him.

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