The Mad Kokoschka: A Play in Three Acts
ISBN 0-89370-944-1 (paper)
87 pages, $7.00
In 1919 the Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka created a sensation
when he introduced his friends to his new model and companion, The
Silent Woman: a lifesize doll in the image of Alma Mahler, the beautiful widow of the great composer. Opera-goers were shocked to see them together in a private box at the theater. Even before this scandal, the newspapers in Germany were calling him "der tolle Kokoschka" the mad Kokoschka.
Relying on Kokoschka's letters to the dollmaker, his memoirs, the memoirs of Alma Mahler and other artefacts of the great sunset of Viennese culture, Gary Kern has attempted to recreate the inner life of the artist at a troubled time in his life, driven by love, rage and his personal vision. Inevitably Kern had to rely on his own imagination, for, as he writes in the Afterword, "What but imagination can recover the private conversations between man and doll? The main thing is not a physical peep-show, which we have all seen, but a psychological one, which is much rarer."
The play was performed with great success at the University of California, Riverside. The reviewer noted: "These private (not to mention voyeuristic) scenes between Kokoschka and the doll are among the most interesting in the production... It is fascinating to watch the constant changing of the lifeless doll with the living doll depending upon Kokoschka's state of mind."
Originally published by Borgo Press (now out of business). Illustrated with black and white reproductions from the work of Oskar Kokoschka and two stills from the UCR production.
Above artwork from the cover: self-portrait by the artist
"Bride of the Wind" (AKA "The Tempest") by Oskar Kokoschka
(A portrayal of the artist and Alma Mahler)
GARY KERN is the author of Misfortune and Letters From Dwight, both published by Xenos Books. He also wrote the novel The Last Snow Leopard (Ghost Dance, 1996), which is available for purchase from Xenos Books. His most recent work is the critically acclaimed study, The Kravchenko Case (Enigma Books, 2007), and The Kravchenko Case: One Man's War on Stalin (Enigma Books, 2007).
More on Gary Kern.
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