Artwork of the Month, July 2019: Family by Gyula Derkovits (1932)

When we look at an artist’s work, we see it through a glass, darkly: whether we like it or not, we are influenced by its previous interpretations. After they die, some artists are turned into icons of artistic, social, or political movements and become entangled with them to such an extent that it profoundly affects the way their works are seen. The Hungarian artist Gyula Derkovits (1894–1934) is an especially complex case. Derkovits was the son of a cabinetmaker and began training in that profession before taking up painting; after finishing three years of primary school, he never gained a formal education. Despite making a name as an artist and finding a number of patrons, he struggled to make a living from his art and had dire money problems by the last years of his life. Furthermore, as a committed left-winger, he was involved with the Communist movement – illegal in the interwar period – and depicted the struggles of the working class in his paintings, while satirising the bourgeoisie. Thanks to all this, Derkovits was easily appropriated by the Communist regime from the 1960s onwards. His pictures were everywhere, and so was his name: among other things, a state-run art gallery, a housing estate in the town of Szombathely, as well as a grant for young artists were named after him.[1]

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Oskar Kokoschka: Expressionist, Migrant, European

In June 1908, 22-year-old Oskar Kokoschka was introduced to the public at the Internationale Kunstschau in Vienna. A student at the Academy of Applied Arts, he exhibited the illustrated book The Dreaming Youths, commissioned by the Viennese Workshops a year earlier (Fig. 1). The book was not well received – as the Wiener Zeitung suggested, one ‘could not see anything more ridiculous’ at the exhibition.[1] It would take another year for Kokoschka to manifest his position as enfant terrible of pre-war Austrian art: at the Kunstschau in 1909, he presented Murder, Hope of Women (Fig. 2). An expressionist play based on the struggle for power between male and female archetypes (the conqueror and the femme fatale), the performance caused so much outrage that its creator only narrowly escaped arrest. For all the scandal it caused, the play traced a significant shift in the artistic trajectory of Vienna 1900: moving away from the flowery decadence of art nouveau towards raw expressionism, a new generation of artists challenged the ideals of their predecessors at the dawn of the Great War. Continue reading

Work with us! We are looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate

The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University announces an open competition for the position

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Job description:

  • The Department of Art History invites applications for a postdoctoral research associate to work with the research project Continuity and Rupture in the Art and Architecture of Central Europe, 1918-1939, funded by the European Research Council.
  • Based at Masaryk University, Brno, the research associate position is a full-time appointment, initially for 3 years but renewable up to December 2023. The successful applicant will take up the position in June 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • The project consists of a comparative analysis of the art and architecture of interwar Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The project team is looking in particular for a researcher with a specialism in Gender and Sexuality in order to develop this as an additional project theme
  • For an informal discussion about the position and the project, including the specific theme, applicants are invited to contact the project leader, Matthew Rampley. Email: rampley@phil.muni.cz.

Deadline: 7 May 2019

To learn more about the job and find out how to apply CLICK HERE.

Beyond Klimt: New Horizons in Central Europe

Gustav Klimt remains undoubtedly the best known artist from Vienna and, along with Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner and Koloman Moser, largely defined the public image of Vienna as a centre of modern art, design and architecture. Yet his fame has also been a problem, completely overshadowing the many other artists active in the Austrian capital in the early twentieth century. Worse, still, his death in 1918, which coincided with those of Schiele, Wagner and Moser, seemed to symbolise the artistic and political demise of Vienna.

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