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1879 - 1901
1901 - 1911
1911 - 1919
1919 - 1938
1938 - 1945
1945 - 1964

 
Gustav Klimt
Alexander Zemlinsky
Gustav Mahler
Walter Gropius
Dr. Paul Kammerer
Oskar Kokoschka
Franz Werfel
Johannes Hollnsteiner

Alma the composer
Kokoschka's Alma portraits

Alma Fetish

The Puppet
Reserl (Chamber Maid)
 
Emil Jakob Schindler, father
Anna von Bergen, mother
Carl Moll, stepfather
Anna Mahler, daughter
Maria Anna Mahler, daughter
Manon Gropius, daughter
Martin Carl Johannes, son
 
Berta Zuckerkandl
Max Burckhard
Bruno Walter
Sigmund Freud
Gerhart Hauptmann
Lili Leiser
Hanns Martin Elster
August Hess
Georg Moenius
  Alma & Venice
Alma & Lisbon
Alma & Los Angeles
Alma & Jerusalem
Alma & New York
 

The Silent Woman Part 1

On March 25, I9I9 Alma wrote in her diary about a meeting with Baron Victor von Dirsztay who had come to her on Kokoschka’s behalf to tell her that the artist still loved her and wanted to "re-establish some kind of human contact" with her. Dirsztay was of the opinion that she awed it to Germany's greatest artist (Kokoschka now had a chair at the Kunstakademie in Dresden). Although it was true that he was currently living with another woman, he could only paint Alma and however often he set out to the other woman still it always turned into a picture of Alma. Even if this remark has to be treated with some reservation, some of Kokoschka’s figures bear a clear resemblance to Alma Mahler. And this was not entirely subconscious because Kokoschka was still trying to come to terms with their separation and now even in a somewhat dubious manner.

In fact as early as July I9I8 he ordered a life-size doll from the Munich doll-maker Hermine Moos as a substitute for his lost love. It was to be made to look exactly like Alma Mahler. On July 22 he already returned a model of the head, having checked it and made suggestions as to how the work should proceed.

“I am very curious to see how the stuffing works. On my drawing I have broadly indicated the flat areas, the incipient hollows and wrinkles that are important to me, will the skin - I am really extremely impatient to find out what that will be like and how its texture will vary according to the nature of the part of the body it belongs to - make the whole thing richer, tenderer, more human? Take as your ideal... Rubens' pictures of his wife, for example the two where she is shown as a young woman with her children. If you are able to carry out this task as I would wish, to deceive me with such magic that when I see it and touch it imagine that I have the woman of my dreams in front of me, then dear Fräulein Moos, I will be eternally indebted to your skills of invention and your womanly sensitivity as you may already have deduced from the discussion we had."

Numerous drawings of details served to assist the doll-maker in her work. In addition to this, Kokoschka painted from memory a life-size oil sketch of his erstwhile lover based on her "actual measurements" to give an idea of how the end result should look. And on August 20, I9I8 he wrote to Hermine Moos "Please make it possible that my sense of touch will be able to take pleasure in those parts where the layers of fat and muscle suddenly give way to a sinuous covering of skin".

The doll was not finished until the second half of February 1919. On February 22 Kokoschka asked to have the doll sent to him. The ensuing disappointment was huge. The doll could scarcely fulfil Kokoschka’s erotic and sexual desires and in the end became no more than a kind of still-life model. The artist then took the place of the unhappy lover and by means of a painterly (and graphic) metamorphosis of the doll he breathed new life into Alma as a “figure of art”.

Kokoschka’s attempts to animate the lifeless object and to ignore its obvious inadequacies produced a total of approximately thirty surviving pen and ink drawings of the doll.

These can be divided into three groups: The doll sitting in a chair, lying on a sofa, or with a dog or a rabbit. One of the most striking and immediate examples of Kokoschka’s obsession, however, is a painting that he made in Dresden in June I9I9, showing the Alma-doll, dressed in blue, on the sofa. In I922 the artist returned to the image of the doll just one last time, although by now it had already been destroyed.

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