13 July until 30 October 2016
Kokoschka and the Magic Flute

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) – the enfant terrible of the Viennese Modern Movement, a celebrated Expressionist after World War I and a renowned artist in exile in London – was very prolific in the latter part of his life. One source of inspiration during this phase was The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), which had premiered in Vienna in 1791. With its exotic and mystical scenes, the opera has not only often had an impact on musicians, but has also sparked the creativity of visual artists again and again. The libretto tells of temples and pyramids, Egyptian halls, sacred groves and idyllic gardens. Oskar Kokoschka drew stage sets and costume designs in 1954 for a performance in Salzburg and in 1965 for the opera house in Geneva. In 1970, the B.A.T. Zigarettenfabriken purchased the Geneva drawings – approximately forty coloured chalk works, many of them large in scale – and gave them to the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), which staged a large Kokoschka exhibition the same year. With their nervous lines, now sketchily allusive, now overlapping in complex structures, the drawings are typical of Kokoschka’s late work. This exhibition is moreover the first ever to present the tapestry woven for the MKG in the Gobelin-Manufaktur in Munich after Kokoschka’s design. Until 1985, the MKG mounted several exhibitions of the overall workgroup, which was of great significance for the artist’s late œuvre. Now, after more than thirty years, it is once again on view in its entirety.

Ill.: Oskar Kokoschka, The Animals (detail), 1965, coloured chalk, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, © Fondation Oskar Kokoschka / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016