Alice in process…

Instead of the question “Who is Alice?” there are now paths leading to what Alice might come to be…

29 Aug 2012

Alice on the war




OSKAR KOKOSCHKA Anschluss – Alice in Wonderland, 1942
 Öl auf Leinwand 63 x 76 cm Wiener Städtische Versicherung, Inv. 2119 © Oskar Kokoschka/VBK Wien, 2010 


 "What am I to do in this hole [their London flat] ? I must invent new subjects for my paintings. I am quite starved for something to see. When the spring comes I feel how it stirs in me as in a migrant bird, and I become quite nervous: I must leave town and paint something real - a grasshopper or something. When I come back to town the landscapes turn into political pictures. My heart aches, but I cannot help it. I cannot just paint landscapes without taking any notice of what happens."


found HERE



Follows excerpts from the article:

Envisioning Kokoschka: Considering the Artist’s Political Allegories, 1939-1954

by Melody A. Maxted


Found here: Montage 2 (2008) 


"Oskar Kokoschka, the Austrian-born German Expressionist, was deeply concerned with what he believed to be the cultural decline of Europe in the twentieth century and, by the mid 1930s, actively strove to remedy it through the act of painting.(1) To be sure, he believed this socio-political decline to be a direct result of World War II. After the war, in 1952, Kokoschka called life in Europe a “savagely devastated existence” where “technical advances have accomplished the miracle of making time disappear.” (2)  For some—such as scientists and military men—modern technological advances were to be embraced. For Kokoschka, however, they were not." (p.87)

(...)

 "With the fourth of the political allegories, Anschluß–Alice in Wonderland, Kokoschka’s political message is thus, quite obvious. There are multiple layers of meaning to this painting, a result of the painter’s intertextual approach. As the first half of the title indicates, this canvas addresses the recent German annexation of Austria, and the painting also contains subtle symbolic elements suggested by the second part of the title. In the background of the chaotic scene, Kokoschka’s former city of Vienna is engulfed in flames. “Wien” is inscribed on the en- tablature of a neoclassical building, suggestive of nineteenth- century buildings along the Ringstraße. (24) In front of the archi- tectural setting, people react to the burning by running rampant through the city streets, suggesting that the cultural capital of the former Austrian Empire might soon be reduced to this sort of social destruction. (25) 

In the right foreground of the painting, a youthful nude with plaited blond hair stands erect. She symbolizes Austria and serves as a visual contrapposto to Hitler’s Aryan ideal. This is not the healthy, robust model seen so often in Nazi propaganda—her figure is disproportionate and her pose is awkward. This is, per- haps, another attempt at satirizing a contemporary, political event. In an attempt at modesty, she reaches with her left arm to cover herself with a fig leaf, alluding to classical statuary and humanist traditions. (26) Kokoschka has placed her inside a pen of barbed wire, separating her from the chaos on the streets. Her right arm is extended outward and she points with one finger directly at the viewer, a warning to Kokoschka’s British audience that this sort of thing could happen to them, as well, if not more careful about their policy-making."

read more p. 93.



1. Keith Holz, “Antifascism or Autono- mous Art?,” in Exiles & Émigrés: The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, ed. S. Barron (LA: Harry N. Abrams, 1997). While the artist was exiled in Prague, his works revealed an increased interest in politics.
2. Oskar Kokoschka, “Edvard Munch’s Expressionism,” College Art Journal 12.4 (Summer, 1953), 312. 
(...)

24. Carl Schorske, “The Ringstrasse, its Critics, and the Birth of Modernism,” in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Cul- ture (New York: Vintage, 1981), 40. 
25. J.P. Hodin, Oskar Kokoschka: The Artist and His Time (London: Cory, Adams & MacKay, 1966), 18. 

26. Hodin, Artist and His Time, 18; Holz, 90. 



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