Constructing the Past


The first oil paintings Oskar Kokoschka created after departing the Wiener Werkstätte in 1909 were his scandalizing black portraits, met with near universal hatred by the public, the critics, and the sitter of these portraits. This paper will explore the radical elements of these black portraits in Kokoschka’s depiction of movement, his use of hands as signifiers, his method of painting, and his desire to depict the genuine character of his sitters.