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Oskar Kokoschka (1886 - 1980)

Lifespan: 1886 - 1980

Related: Austria - modern art

In July 1918 Oskar Kokoschka ordered a life-size doll from the Munich doll-maker Hermine Moos as a substitute for his lost love Alma Mahler. It was to be made to look exactly like her. There are parallels with Hans Bellmer's doll here; who was a substitute for his cousin. [Dec 2006]


Oskar Kokoschka (March 1, 1886-February 22, 1980) was an Austrian artist and poet, best known for his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes.

He had a passionate, often stormy affair with Alma Mahler, shortly after the death of her infant daughter and her affair with Walter Gropius. After several years together, Mahler rejected him, explaining that she was afraid of being too overcome with passion. He continued to love her his entire life, and one of his greatest works Bride of the Wind is a tribute to her. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Kokoschka [Aug 2005]

Alma Mahler (1919) - Hermine Moos

Alma Maria Mahler
Alma Maria Mahler (August 31, 1879 – December 11, 1964), noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was the wife, successively, of one of the century's leading composers (Gustav Mahler), architects (Walter Gropius), and novelists (Franz Werfel). Her life reads like a Who's Who of early twentieth century Europe.

When Gustav Mahler died in 1911, Alma married Gropius. The marriage was tumultuous. For two years, Alma had an affair with artist Oskar Kokoschka, who painted his Bride of the Wind to represent their love.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Mahler [Aug 2005]

see also: 1919 - 1925 - Hans Bellmer and his dolls

Alma Mahler (1919) - Hermine Moos
image sourced here. [Aug 2005]

In July 1918 Oskar Kokoschka ordered a life-size doll from the Munich doll-maker Hermine Moos as a substitute for his lost love. It was to be made to look exactly like Alma Mahler. On July 22 he already returned a model of the head, having checked it and made suggestions as to how the work should proceed.

"If you are able to carry out this task as I would wish, to deceive me with such magic that when I see it and touch it imagine that I have the woman of my dreams in front of me, then dear Fräulein Moos, I will be eternally indebted to your skills of invention and your womanly sensitivity as you may already have deduced from the discussion we had."
--http://www.alma-mahler.at/engl/almas_life/puppet.html [Aug 2005]

The doll was not finished until the second half of February 1919. On February 22 Kokoschka asked to have the doll sent to him. The ensuing disappointment was huge. The doll could scarcely fulfil Kokoschka’s erotic and sexual desires and in the end became no more than a kind of still-life model. The artist then took the place of the unhappy lover and by means of a painterly (and graphic) metamorphosis of the doll he breathed new life into Alma as a “figure of art”. --http://www.alma-mahler.at/engl/almas_life/puppet2.html [Aug 2005]

On a most obvious level, Hans Bellmer's doll was a substitute for his cousin, the proscribed object of his desire, in a literal way that Oskar Kokoschka's doll had been intended as a simulacrum of his former mistress. Kokoschka commissioned his mannequin from a doll maker in Berlin in 1918. While waiting for it, he referred to it as his "Beloved Fetish." His letters to Hermine Moos, the doll maker, were published in 1925 under the title "Der Fetisch." Bellmer read these letters and was fascinated to hear about another artist's close relationship with his doll. --http://www.nyartsmagazine.com/pages/nyam_document.php?nid=55&did=1420

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