Two Nudes (Lovers)

1913
Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886–1980)


Dimensions

163.2 x 97.5 cm (64 1/4 x 38 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

1973.196

Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery (Gallery 155)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Paintings

Painted in Vienna in the years just prior to World War I, Two Nudes is a self-portrait of Kokoschka with Alma Mahler, a symbolic testimonial to the artist’s tumultuous affair with the widow of the great composer Gustav Mahler. Kokoschka’s haunted expression and the ambiguous poses of the two lovers—who seem both to embrace and to move past each other—reflect a complex and tormented relationship. Kokoschka’s bold brushwork and Expressionist style were influenced not only by van Gogh but by the sixteenth-century Spanish painter El Greco, whose work Kokoschka greatly admired.

Inscription

Lower center: OK

Provenance

July, 1913, sold by the artist to Franz Hauer (b. 1867 – d. 1914), Vienna [see note 1]. Probably about 1914/1915, acquired Oskar Reichel (b. 1869 - d. 1943), Vienna [see note 2]; February, 1939, transferred by Reichel to Otto Kallir (b. 1894 - d. 1978), Galerie St. Etienne, Paris and New York [see note 3]; 1945, sold by Galerie St. Etienne, New York, to the Nierendorf Gallery, New York; 1945, sold by Nierendorf to Silberman Galleries, New York; 1947/1948, probably sold by Silberman to Sarah Reed (Mrs. John) Blodgett, later Sarah Reed Platt (d. by 1972), Grand Rapids, Portland, Oregon and Santa Barbara; 1973, bequest of Sarah Reed Platt to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 11, 1973)

NOTES:
[1] Kokoschka wrote to Franz Hauer on July 21, 1913 outlining the terms of Hauer’s acquisition of the painting Lovers (“Liebespaar”) the following day. After Hauer’s death in 1914, the painting was listed in an inventory of his estate as the Dancing Nude Couple (“Akt Tanzender Paar”). Many thanks to Christian Bauer of the State Gallery of Lower Austria and Katharina Erling of the Kokoschka catalogue raisonné project for supplying this information.

[2] Dr. Oskar Reichel was an admirer, collector, and patron of Kokoschka's work. Tobias G. Natter, Die Welt von Klimt, Schiele und Kokoschka: Sammler und Mäzene (Cologne, 2003), 254, suggests he acquired the painting around 1914/1915. It was first published as being in Dr. Reichel's collection by Paul Westheim in Das Kunstblatt 1 (1917), p. 319.

[3] On February 1, 1939, Reichel transferred the painting--along with four other Kokoschka paintings--to the dealer Otto Kallir, who at that time ran the Galerie St. Etienne in Paris. Kallir exhibited it in Paris that spring and brought it to the United States later that year. After his arrival in the United States, he paid Reichel's two sons, who had already immigrated to North and South America, for the paintings. Kallir opened a branch of his Galerie St. Etienne in New York and exhibited this work often between 1940 and 1945.

For further information, please see "Resolved Claims" at http://www.mfa.org/collections/provenance/nazi-era-provenance-research

Credit Line

Bequest of Sarah Reed Platt

Copyright

© 2015 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich