Two Nudes (Lovers)
Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886–1980)
163.2 x 97.5 cm (64 1/4 x 38 3/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Charlotte F. and Irving W. Rabb Gallery (Gallery 155)
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.
Lower center: OK
About 1914/1915, sold by the artist to Oskar Reichel (b. 1869 - d. 1943), Vienna [see note 1]; February, 1939, transferred by Reichel to Otto Kallir (b. 1894 - d. 1978), Galerie St. Etienne, Paris and New York [see note 2]; 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)
 Dr. Oskar Reichel, an admirer and collector of Kokoschka's work, also knew him personally and almost certainly acquired this painting directly from him. Tobias G. Natter, Die Welt von Klimt, Schiele und Kokoschka: Sammler und Mäzene (Cologne, 2003), 254, suggests it was acquired around 1914/1915. The painting was first published as being in Dr. Reichel's collection by Paul Westheim in Das Kunstblatt 1 (1917), p. 319.
 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
Bequest of Sarah Reed Platt
© 2015 Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich