About this work
Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
In April 1973 Oskar Kokoschka visited Jerusalem, where he sketched six of the city's political and religious figures. He portrayed four Israeli leaders: Prime Minister Golda Meir, Supreme Court President Shimon Agranat, Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, and Jerusalem's mayor, Teddy Kollek. The other sitters represented the city's religious diversity: His Beatitude Benedictos I Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and Sheikh Mustafa Khalil el-Ansari, chief warden of the Mosque of Omar. Kokoschka removed all references to time or place by setting the figures against blank backgrounds, and focused on capturing the essence of each personality through a rapid, direct approach, sketching on transfer paper during an intensive session in which he would sit only a few feet away from his subject.
Kokoschka undertook the project to benefit the Jerusalem Foundation, an organization founded by Kollek, which used the proceeds to support educational opportunities and foster friendship between Jewish and Muslim youth. This was one of many humanitarian efforts Kokoschka promoted through printmaking during his nearly seventy-year career. Two London publishers, Marlborough Graphics Ltd. and George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd., covered the entire cost of the project.