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: Catalogue: Oskar Kokoschka's Tower Bridge, London


Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
In 1910, Kokoschka moved from Impressionism to Expressionism. He sought to express both intellectual and emotional experiences, “the reality behind the appearance.”1 He became particularly able in suggesting deep space, as shown in our painting. Kokoschka stated “an especially characteristic feature of my art is my gift to create in the onlooker the illusion of space, while ignoring the ordinary means of geometric perspective.”2 In truth, he always liked to paint from the highest points, thus achieving the greatest visual scope.At first, Kokoschka concentrated on portraiture but later his interests broadened, and in 1923 he began to travel and discover the expanse and beauty of the natural world. This new subject matter was soon developed into the mature style seen in Tower Bridge, London, painted on his first trip to England. He painted the scene from the north side of the Thames near London Bridge, capturing the vibrant life of the river and the wharfs. The impression of a moment in time is created by contrasting planes and colors without the necessity of minute detail. This work also reveals Kokoschka's characteristic brush stroke, his extraverted approach and his great objectivity.Endnotes
  1. Edith Hoffmann, Kokoschka, His Life and Work, London, Faber and Faber, 1947, p. 72.
  2. Ibid., p. 137.
Referenced Work of Art
  1. Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian, 1886- . Tower Bridge, London, 1925. Oil on canvas, 30” x 50”. Signed and dated, on the back: O K London Juli 25. Accession 61.36.5CollectionsKunsthalle, Hamburg; Galerie Fischer, Lucerne; Joseph von Sternberg, Hollywood; P. D. McMillan, Minneapolis, 23 November, 1949; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Bequest of Putnam Dana McMillan, 15 November, 1961.ExhibitedHamburg, Kunsthalle, 1925
    Zurich, Kunsthaus, 1927
    London, Leicester Galleries, 1928
    Mannheim, Kunsthalle, 1931
    Los Angeles County Museum, 1939, 1943
    Chicago, Arts Club, 1946
    Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Oskar Kokoschka, 1948
    Subsequently exhibited at: New York, The Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum; Washington, The Phillips Memorial Gallery; St. Louis, City Art Museum.ReferencesSheldon, Cheney, A Primer of Modern Art, New York, Tudor, 1939, p. 16.
    Edith Hoffmann, Kokoschka, His Life and Work, London, Faber and Faber, 1947, p. 148.
    James S. Plaut, Oskar Kokoschka, New York, Chanticleer, 1948.
    Margaret Lowengrund, “Oskar Kokoschka,” Art Digest, XXIII:19, August, 1949, p. 9.
    Hans Maria Wingler, Oskar Kokoschka, Innsbruck, Galerie Welz Salzburg, 1958, p. 315.
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Source: Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr III, "Catalogue: Oskar Kokoschka's Tower Bridge," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 50, no. 4 (December, 1961): 22-23.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009