Oskar Kokoschka was a controversial painter, printmaker, and author of the Expressionist movement. In 1908, his work was shown at the Kunstschau exhibition, and was considered so violent that he was forced to leave his school. The performance of two of his plays (“The Sphinx and the Scarecrow” and “Murderer, Hope of Women”) in the following year caused his dismissal from his position at Werkstötte. These plays were later considered the first endeavors in German Expressionist theater. His early work focused on portraiture, having gained commissions through friend and architect Adolf Loos.
Beginning in 1910, Herwarth Walden, editor of “Der Sturm” magazine, employed Kokoschka to create title-page designs for most of the magazine's issues. He was appointed to various teaching positions throughout his career, and from all of them was either dismissed because of his controversial nature (the Austrian government banned him from teaching for a period of time) or stepped down because of boredom.
Most of his printmaking was lithography, and Kokoschka produced over 500 prints in his lifetime. He was actively involved in printmaking throughout his career, and it always stylistically reflected his painting. His earlier work in both media shows the influence of artists like Gustav Klimt, to whom Kokoschka dedicated his lithographs published as, “Die träumenden Knaben” (1908), and later turned to classical subject matter as in “Apulia” (1963) and “Die Odyssee” (1963).
A Jewish artist, Kokoschka emigrated to Prague in 1935, and after being exhibited as a degenerate artist in Munich in 1937 and the Nazis' gain of power in Prague in 1938, he fled to London. He was little known in England at that time, so found work difficult. He eventually returned to artistic production, taught summer courses at his School of Seeing in Salzburg from 1953-1963, and published his autobiography, “Mein Leben” in 1971.