NEW YORK (June 29, 2009)—On July 16, 2009, Neue Galerie New York will open two exhibitions: “Focus: Oskar Kokoschka” and “Selections from the Permanent Collection.” The “Focus” exhibition presents Kokoschka paintings and drawings from the Neue Galerie collection. The permanent collection show highlights several works that portray the social upheaval of Germany in the 1920s, offering strong echoes of the current economic and social crisis. Both will be on view through October 5.
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was a key figure in the history of Expressionism. He first gained notice with his appearance in the seminal Vienna Kunstschau of 1908. Gustav Klimt, president of the Vienna Secession, described the artist as “the outstanding talent among the younger generation.”
Kokoschka received his greatest acclaim for his portraits. He was able to fix his reactions to a sitter directly on the canvas, without preparatory studies. The subjects of his portraits are illuminated from within, rather than from an exterior light source. In this way, Kokoschka animates his sitters. As the artist himself once stated, “Human beings are not still lifes.”
In addition to his oil portraits, the exhibition includes a selection of the artist’s drawings. Graphic works that Kokoschka created for the Wiener Werkstätte demonstrate his swift passage from Jugendstil to Expressionism, and from illustrator to artist.
Highlighted among the permanent collection works on exhibit will be a number of pieces that have particular relevance to present-day social conditions, from George Grosz drawings of corrupt plutocrats in a debauched civic landscape to Otto Dix etchings of crippled war veterans facing a pitiless society.
Other major works on view will be paintings by Austrian artists Gustav Klimt (including his masterpiece Adele Bloch-Bauer I) and Egon Schiele, by German artists Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and decorative arts by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, Marianne Brandt, and Mies van der Rohe.
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