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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
This double portrait is of the art historian Carl Georg Heise (1890-1979) and the typographer Hans Mardersteig (1892-1977), who were in a homo sexual relationship. Originally the panels were to be joined with a hinge like a medieval diptych, as portraits of married couples were. In the end, at the request of the two friends, they were placed side by side in a frame. This made it look like an ordinary friendship painting of the kind often encountered in German Romanticism.
Oskar Kokoschka was born in Austria in 1896 to a Czech family. During his studies in Vienna one of his teachers was the famous artist Gustav Klimt, who recognised that he had great talent. He developed an Expressionist style influenced by Der Blaue Reiter and the Fauves. He gained enormous respect for his psychological portraits of his circle of friends, which included artists, poets, intellectuals and actors. He was badly wounded in the First World War as a volunteer for the Hapsburg army on the Eastern Front. After the war he taught at the art school in Dresden. He travelled a great deal between 1924 and 1933 in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He began to paint landscapes in this period. In 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, Kokoschka fled to England. He eventually settled in Switzerland where he died at the age of 93.
material and technique: oil on canvas
kind of object: painting
creditline: Aankoop / Purchase: Fonds W. van Rede 1956
inventory number: 2419 a-b (MK)