Saturday, June 26, 2010

Max Oppenheimer

 Egon Schiele, Portrait of Max Oppenheimer, 1910

Max Oppenheimer (1885-1954), a native of Vienna, began to study art at the Vienna Art Academy at the age of fifteen, continuing from 1903 at the Prague Art Academy. In 1906 Max Oppenheimer joined the Prague group OSMA (the Eight), one of the first associations of Czech avant-garde artists. 

Max Oppenheimer, Operation, 1912

In 1908 Max Oppenheimer moved back to Vienna, joining the circle of Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. His encounter with Kokoschka's painting exerted a formative influence on Oppenheimer, especially in the field of the psychological portrait. After participating in several group shows, Oppenheimer had his first one-man show at the Moderne Galerie in Munich in 1911:

Max Oppenheimer, Exhibition Poster, 1911 (showing his canvas Bleeding Man)

That same year Oppenheimer began to work for the left-wing journal Die Aktion founded by Franz Pfemfert in Berlin. In 1915 Oppenheimer moved to Switzerland, where he would remain, with interruptions, until 1924. His style of painting subsequently incorporated Cubist elements that would become characteristic of his work. Introduced to Dada in 1916, Oppenheimer participated in the first Dada exhibition in Zurich that year. 

Max Oppenheimer, Gustav Mahler conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, 1935

Oppenheimer went to Berlin again in 1926 but by 1931 the political situation in Germany was so tense, that he decided to return to Vienna. Two years later his work was confiscated during the widespread wave of persecution of Jews and SA defamation of their work that followed the Reichstag fire. In 1932 Oppenheimer participated a last time in a group show at the Vienna Künstlerhaus before fleeing to Switzerland in 1938. 

Max Oppenheimer, Kolisch-Quartett, 1940

In 1939 Oppenheimer emigrated to the US, where his work revealed a reversion to earlier ideas. Shortly before his death in his New York apartment on 19 May 1954, Max Oppenheimer was experimenting with American Abstract Expressionism.

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