Art dealer of the Avantgarde

Oskar Kokoschka
Franz Hauer / Der Musiker Hauer (Inv. Buch) / Bildnis Häuer (EK), 1913


Städtische Kunstsammlungen zu Düsseldorf (seit 2001: Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf)
Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Düsseldorf, an Städtische Kunstsammlungen zu Düsseldorf
Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Berlin
beschlagnahmt, 26.08.1937 (1937-1939)
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA


Oskar Kokoschka
01.03.1886 - 22.02.1980

The painter, graphic artist and writer Oskar Kokoschka is one of the most important precursors of Expressionism. He attented the Kunstgewerbeschule (school of arts and crafts) in Vienna in 1904–09 before turning to oil painting in 1905, influenced by the works of Klimt and van Gogh. In 1910, Herwarth Walden took him on as a member of staff for the magazine ‘Der Sturm’. While in Berlin he came to the attention of Paul Cassirer who organised an exhibition of his work in his art salon. At this time Kokoschka was largely focusing on portrait painting. He developed a psychologising style that, however, did not always meet with the sitters’ approval. Through Paul Cassirer Kokoschka met Alfred Flechtheim and was given the opportunity to show works at the Sonderbund exhibition in 1912 in Cologne and the Werkbund exhibition in the same city in 1914. Although he did not belong to the inner circle of artists around Flechtheim, the art dealer held him in high esteem and later included individual works by Kokoschka in various group exhibitions. His portrait of the actress Tilla Durieux, painted in 1910, who like Flechtheim was living in Bleibtreustrasse in Berlin, was sold by Alexander Vömel in 1934 to offset debts at the Flechtheim gallery in Düsseldorf to the collector Josef Haubrich of Cologne, who bequeathed it to the Museum Ludwig. In 2012 this work was restituted to Flechtheim’s heirs.

Apart from his portraits Kokoschka also painted religious motifs and landscapes of expressive dynamism. After serving in World War I and being severely wounded he took up work as an artist once again and accepted a professorship in Dresden in 1919 where he modifed both his style of painting and his palette. His brushwork became smoother and the landscapes and cityscapes that he had painted since 1924 on his many trips around Europe, Asia Minor and north Africa captured fleeting, momentary impressions.

Numerous works by Kokoschka were confiscated from German museums by the Nazis during the ‘Degenerate Art’ campaign. As a result of this animosity the artist emigrated to London in 1938 and became a British citizen at the end of the war. In 1953 he moved to Villeneuve on Lake Geneva and created his important cycles of illustrations in addition to paintings. Oskar Kokoschka, in whose work ‘the spirit of nature and the real become transparent for the spiritual’, as Thomas Mann wrote, died in 1980 in Montreux.



1983, Verboten, verfolgt. Kunstdiktatur im 3. Reich, Duisburg, Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, S. 15.

Alfred Flechtheim. Sammler. Kunsthändler. Verleger, Ausst.-Kat. Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Köln 1987, S. 129.

Winkler, Johann, Oskar Kokoschka, Die Gemälde, Band I: 1906-1929, Salzburg 1995, Nr. 98.