The "Other" Oppenheimer at Leopold Museum in Vienna

Wednesday, October 4, 2023
The "Other" Oppenheimer at Leopold Museum in Vienna

Max Oppenheimer was an Expressionist pioneer. Born in 1885 in Vienna, he first studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and later at the Art Academy in Prague.

He participated in the legendary exhibitions Kunstschau Wien 1908 and Internationale Kunstschau Wien 1909 where he became acquainted with numerous progressive artists of that time, among them Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980), Egon Schiele (1890–1918) and Albert Paris Gütersloh (1887–1973). Egon Schiele, who was five years his junior, actively sought out the company of Oppenheimer from 1909. Their ensuing friendship lasted many years and manifested in a period of them working together in Schiele’s studio (in the winter of 1910/11) and in the reciprocal appreciation of their respective works. During this time, the two artists portrayed each other several times. While Oppenheimer and Kokoschka also started out as friends, increasing rivalries between the two protagonists of the Austrian avant-garde escalated into a veritable feud. Kokoschka accused Oppenheimer of plagiarism, and turned to his international network to spread his message and discredit Oppenheimer’s oeuvre.

When German troops invaded Austria in 1938, the artist was forced to flee and emigrate via Switzerland to the US, where he died lonely and penniless in 1954.

With this long-overdue, large-scale exhibition, the Leopold Museum intends to shed new light on the eminent and ground-breaking oeuvre of Max Oppenheimer, which has unjustly fallen into oblivion, and to explore the wealth of his works’ motifs. Furthermore, the presentation looks at the role of the artist and his networks through his contemporaries Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.

Image : Max Oppenheimer, Portrait of Egon Schiele, 1910 © Wien Museum | Photo: Wien Museum/Birgit und Peter Kainz

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