Oskar Kokoschka (1886 - 1980) and Jack B Yeats developed a great friendship and admiration for each others' work towards the last decade of Yeats' life. This exhibition highlights a shared fascination with people on the margins of society and their search for new forms of expression. Kokoschka's distinct handling of paint had a direct influence on the development of Yeats' late style and, in return, he championed him as one of the last great painters.
Oskar Kokoschka emerged out of the Art Nouveau movement in Vienna but his energetic and spontaneous painting style reveals the influence of Van Gogh and the Berlin art scene on his work rather than the more decorative style of his Viennese compatriots Kustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
This exhibition, begins with his exile in Prague and focuses on the development of Kokoschka's late style, marked by a greater engagement with the outside world and the impact of World War II. Kokoschka was an outspoken opponent of Hitler and in common with many avant-garde artists his paintings were confiscated and co-opted into the exhibitions of Degenerate Art organised by the Nazis to ridicule and condemn modern art.
Following his escape to England in 1938 his paintings started to reflect the political climate and unfolding world events. During the 1940s many of his landscapes emerge as intense political allegories containing violent imagery and caricatured figures, whilst his portraits reveal the emotional and psychological mood of the sitter.
Kokoschka painted many European cities, but none more than London and he became a British citizen in 1947.
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