From 14 December 2018 to 10 March 2019, the Kunsthaus Zürich presents Oskar Kokoschka – Expressionist, migrant and pacifist, the first retrospective of the artist’s work in Switzerland in more than 30 years. One of the most significant figurative painters post-Second World War, Oskar Kokoschka influenced a generation of artists including Nancy Spero, Herbert Brandl and Denis Savary. The exhibition explores themes of figuration, experimentation with colours drawing from his own life as a migrant to five countries.
This remarkable exhibition features more than 200 works including the stunning highlight ‘Prometheus Triptych’, which has never been displayed in Switzerland before. Curator Cathérine Hug has brought together 100 paintings and an equal number of works on paper, photographs and letters from all phases of his career.
Two monumental triptychs ‘The Prometheus Triptych’ (1950, Courtauld Gallery, London) and ‘Thermopylae’ (1954, University of Hamburg) demonstrate Kokoschka’s mature oeuvre. The two works have only been shown together once before, at Tate in 1962. They were created during a transitional phase: after a decade of wartime exile Kokoschka moved in 1953 to Villeneuve in Switzerland, where the artist lived until his death in 1980.
Reflecting the rich diversity of Kokoschka’s life – his time spent abroad, his plays, his friendships with literary figures and Dadaists, with Wilhelm Wartmann, the first director of the Kunsthaus Zürich – the collateral programme is strong.