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Expressionist Portraits

Expressionist portraits reveal more than just what people look like.


Self-Portrait

Oskar Kokoschka
(Austrian, 1886–1980)

1913. Oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 19 1/2" (81.6 x 49.5 cm)

Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka made this self-portrait when he was 27 years old. Though World War I did not erupt until the following year, at the time he made this painting Europe was already feeling the tensions of the diplomatic clashes that would soon lead to war. The thickly painted, sickly colors, an unnaturally elongated head, and a hovering hand convey the tension and alienation Kokoschka sensed at the time.

Oskar Kokoschka, My Life, translated from the German by David Britt, New York, Macmillan, 1974, p. 37.

A representation of oneself made by oneself.

WHO SAID WHAT?
Oskar Kokoschka said: “There is no such thing as a German, French, or Anglo-American Expressionism! There are only young people trying to find their bearings in the world.”1