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Courmayeur et les Dents des Géants

Oskar Kokoschka ( 1927 )

On View

Collection item 1059
  • Location Goh Annex (1612) - Display, Gallery 206
  • Period Twentieth-Century
  • Materials Oil on canvas
  • Object Number 1059
  • Dimensions 35 1/2 x 52 in.; 90.17 x 132.08 cm.
  • Credit Line Acquired 1941; © 2022 Foundation Oskar Kokoschka / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ProLitteris, Zürich

In 1927, Oskar Kokoschka embarked on one of his many journeys to paint picturesque sites in European cities. According to his letters, this was the third work painted on the trip, sometime between October 16 and October 22. In a hotel nestled against the Italian side of the Mont Blanc range, Kokoschka explored the area by day and returned in the afternoons to paint on the balcony of his room. He wrote to his mother that Mont Blanc seemed “close enough to be touched.” Working with paints thinned to near watercolor consistency to allow for a fluid technique, Kokoschka created a densely packed pictorial composition with mountains that loom toward the viewer. Areas of bright color are heightened and defined by heavier paint that appears independent of its descriptive function, yet a part of the compositional structure.

Before he even met Kokoschka, Duncan Phillips wrote to him, “We think you are one of the great landscape painters of all times and also one of the best painters of psychological portraits… . You have a very admiring public in this country ready to welcome you.” A year later, Kokoschka sent Phillips the catalogue from his 1947 solo show at the Basel Kunsthalle, inscribed with the message, “My exhibition here is a brilliant success. Couldn’t you come over to see it? Love from your O. Kokoschka.” Artist and patron met when Kokoschka visited the Phillips in 1949 for his first American museum retrospective.