Oskar Kokoschka Self-Portrait of a Degenerate Artist 1937 © Fondation Oskar Kokoschka. DACS, London 2023. Reproduced courtesy of a private collection on long term loan to the National Galleries of Scotland


Born 1886
Died 1980
Nationalities Austrian
Birth place Pöchlarn
Death place Montreux

Kokoschka studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna from 1905 to 1909, where he also worked for the Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops). Although his early work was part of the 'art nouveau' movement in Vienna, he soon developed into Austria's leading expressionist painter, specialising in disturbing psychological portraits. After being invalided out of the army during the First World War, Kokoschka was based mainly in Dresden until 1923. He travelled until 1930, and from 1931 to 1934 returned to live in his native Vienna. In 1934 he moved to Prague, where he took out Czech citizenship. After the Munich Agreement of September 1938, he was forced to flee to London with his future wife, Olda Palkovska. He became a British citizen in 1947, and lived mainly in Switzerland after 1953.

Glossary terms

Glossary terms

Degenerate Art

The term Degenerate Art ('Entarte Kunst' in German), was coined in the 1930s by the Nazis to ridicule modern art that did not fit with Hitler’s vision'. Confiscated by the German government, exhibitions of 'Degenerate' art took place in cities including Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig. In addition to this ridicule, the Nazi's banned artists branded with the term from exhibiting or holding teaching posts.


A style that made an impact in the arts in the 1920s, particularly in Germany. Expressionists abandoned realistic, accurate representations in favour of exaggerations and distortions of line and colour that were intended to carry far greater emotional impact.