Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980) is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He was able to transcend the prevailing Jugendstil of his time and went on to become a central pioneer of Expressionism. From 1908, he appeared as a painter, graphic artist, poetand playwright, provoking the art world as an enfant terrible and radical innovator. Even later, after Europe had been shaken by two world wars and realistic art had fallen into disrepute, Kokoschka boldly campaigned for the recognition of figurative art, which turned him into a role model for the generations of artists to come. The political turmoil of the past century forced the artist to become a migrant living in Vienna, Dresden, Prague and London, before he finally settled in 1953 in the Swiss town of Villeneuve.
The retrospective, comprising some 250 exhibits, takes into account all the periods of Kokoschka’s oeuvre with high-quality loans from international museums and private collections, featuring not only the versatile artist’s paintings, drawings, watercolors and prints but also his works for art magazines like “Der Sturm” and the theater. By means of political allegories, incendiary posters and historical documents, Kokoschka is shown as a significant and ratherambivalent “homo politicus”. Defamed by the National Socialist regime as a “degenerate artist,”he dedicated his life to humanism and pacifism.