Rüdiger Görner / translated by Debra Marmor and Herbert Danner

‘[A] rich literary study of a major cultural figure’
Art History

‘Rüdiger Görner is a thorough expert in all things Kokoschka, and his work is entertaining as it is knowledgeable.’
New Art Examiner



‘This is a revelatory new biography of Oskar Kokoschka. Rüdiger Görner tells the story of the life and loves of this unique Central European painter and man of letters as he interacted with writers, musicians and artists in is milieu as well as many important political leaders. Arguably full of inner contradictions, Kokoschka remains a hugely significant figure whose relevance is undiminished indeed for these times.’
Norman Rosenthal

‘An unconventional but long-awaited approach to Kokoschka’s rich oeuvre. Rüdiger Görner sets Kokoschka’s singular character against a social, literary and political background in a century of European turmoil, shedding light on how contemporaries such as Thomas Mann and Karl Kraus viewed his work. This new biography is a holistic reflection on Kokoschka as a person, with his paintings and writings, his enemies and lovers, his agonies and hopes.’
Catherine Hug, curator of Kunsthaus Zürich

‘Rüdiger Görner does not separate the artist from his life. Kokoschka was driven, always trying to cross boundaries, be they moral, political or social. The veracity of his art was the result of these frictions never being hidden. Görner works along the same principles, creating a convincing book and presenting the entire Kokoschka, perhaps for the first time, and leaves the reader with an unforgettable impression.’
Johann Konrad Eberlein, former director of the Institute of Art History at University of Graz

‘Görner unearths a plentitude of unexpected and enlightening discoveries about Kokoschka’s life’
Timothy Benson, curator of Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was an artist of his time, but he also stood out among his peers – not just because of his towering physical height but for his artistic range: he wrote plays and stories as well as essays on art and politics. Using both brush and pen to work against the tide, he played a major role in shaping European art in the twentieth century.

A rebel of the art world, he was used to controversy, and Rüdiger Görner’s accomplished biography weaves the dark, unsettling aspects of Kokoschka’s life among his more celebrated achievements: from the eerie doll he had made in the image of a former lover to the unconventional art school he founded in the aftermath of war.

Taking us from his birthplace of Pöchlarn across Europe and to the United Kingdom, where he became a naturalised British citizen in 1947, this first English-language biography does more than show Kokoschka as a maverick artist; it is the definitive interpretation of an extraordinary life.

RÜDIGER GÖRNER is Professor of German with Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. The Founding Director of the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations, his books include biographies of Rainer Maria Rilke and the poet Georg Trakl. He has been the recipient of the Reimar Lüst Award, awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.



Watch Rüdiger at Insiders Outsiders Festival here

Watch Rüdiger’s lecture at the Fritz Ascher Society here.

Watch Rüdiger’s Ben Uri Lecture.

Additional information




Published Date