A major figure in the Expressionist movement, Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) studied in Vienna, and early in his career was strongly influenced by Art Nouveau, particularly the elegant style of Gustav Klimt. Around 1909 he painted the first of his Expressionist portraits, which seem to reveal their sitters' emotional life. The restless draftsmanship and broken patterns of color in these likenesses predict the emergence of the artist's mature style in such paintings as Bride of the Wind of 1914. Seriously wounded in World War I, Kokoschka produced little work until 1924, when he began a series of journeys through Europe and North Africa that refreshed his creative spirit. During this period he embarked on a number of color experiments, particularly in landscape paintings, in which he combined a traditional organization of the painting's space seen from a high viewpoint with brilliant colors, set forth with his characteristic energetic brushwork. These visionary landscapes communicate a passionate vision, seeming at times exhilarated, at times anguished. In the 1930s, the artist's work was condemned by the Nazi regime as "degenerate" and his paintings in public collections were confiscated. In 1938 he moved to London, and after World War II, to Switzerland, where he spent most of the rest of his life. Kokoschka's late paintings retain the Expressionist qualities of his best mature work, and though he never fully deserted representation, their increasing abstraction reveals a kinship to Abstract Expressionism.
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