Oskar Kokoschka The Principle (Das Prinzip) from the periodical in portfolio form Die Schaffenden, vol. 1, no. 3 (1919) (1918, published 1919)

  • Not on view

In this lithograph, blood drips from the mouth of a bust of Marianne, who personifies France and is identifiable by her conical Phrygian cap, an ancient symbol of liberty. The French Revolution's idealistic slogan, "Liberty, equality, and fraternity," is scrawled on the bust's base in blood red, distorted into "Liberty, equality, and fratricide." The print expresses Oskar Kokoschka's fear that with a series of bloody clashes that began in November 1918, post–World War I Germany was descending into civil war. The strife in fact would lead to the overthrow of Germany's imperial government and its eventual replacement with a republic. Although Kokoschka initially associated with artists of the revolutionary November Group, he did not join them and asked that they not list him as a supporter.

Kokoschka's depiction of a blood-smeared artwork proved prophetic: a year after this lithograph appeared, street fighting in Dresden caused damage to a painting in the city's Zwinger museum. Kokoschka made a public statement imploring his countrymen to take their political battles away from cultural sites, bringing upon himself the criticism that he cared more about art than about people.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
composition (irreg.): 13 5/8 x 9 3/4" (34.6 x 24.7 cm); sheet: 16 5/16 x 12 5/16" (41.4 x 31.3 cm)
Verlag Gustav Kiepenheuer, Potsdam-Berlin
125 (including deluxe edition of 25 on Japan paper and regular edition of 100 on wove paper [this ex.])
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Pro Litteris, Zurich
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].