Oskar Kokoschka

Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, Hope of Women)

(1916, drawings executed 1910)

Not on view
the artist
Illustrated book with five line block reproductions after pen and ink drawings, four with gouache additions
page: 13 7/16 x 9 3/4" (34.1 x 24.8 cm); overall: 13 7/8 x 10 3/16 x 3/8" (35.2 x 25.8 x 1 cm)
Verlag Der Sturm, Berlin
Druckerei für Bibliophilen, Berlin
100 (including 3 numbered 1-3 with gouache additions [this ex.] and 97 numbered 4-100)
The Louis E. Stern Collection
Object number
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Pro Litteris, Zurich
Illustrated Book
Drawings and Prints
This work is not on view.
There are 4 works in this illustrated book online.
Oskar Kokoschka has 144 works online.
There are 4,013 illustrated books online.

Set in a barbaric antiquity, and against the backdrop of two chanting male and female choruses, Oskar Kokoschka's notorious Expressionist play Mörderer, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, hope of women) dramatizes the eternal clash between the sexes. These illustrations emphasize the violent interactions between the two central figures, whose nude bodies are covered in expressive, netlike patterns of tattoos—at the time, signifiers of primitivism, criminality, and degeneracy.

In one scene, the woman pushes the blade into the man's chest. The man, whose facial features and shaved head resemble those of Kokoschka himself, nevertheless rises up. In another, he towers over her on the cusp of triumph, with knife in hand, as the chorus looks on.


The play's single performance at the Kunstschau exhibition in summer 1909 cemented Kokoschka's reputation as Vienna's wildest young artist. Shortly thereafter, his friend and supporter Adolf Loos introduced him to important Berlin dealer and publisher Herwarth Walden. Walden began promoting Kokoschka's work in Germany and printed several of the artist's drawings in his influential Expressionist periodical, Der Sturm. In 1916, Walden's Verlag Der Sturm published this illustrated book, combining Kokoschka's play with reproductions of related drawings (including four that had appeared in the periodical). Kokoschka hand-colored the reproductions in three copies; of these three, two are now in the Museum's collection. Kokoschka dedicated the edition to Loos.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Louis E. Stern, New York (d. 1962); bequeathed to The Museum of Modern Art, 1964

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information, or have spotted an error, please send feedback to collection@moma.org.