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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DEUTSCHE BANK

Exodus (Col de Sfa bei Biskra)

Exodus (Col de Sfa bei Biskra)
signed with initials 'OK' (lower left)
oil on canvas
35 x 51 1/8 in. (88.7 x 129.8 cm.)
Painted in February 1928
Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer, Berlin, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 16 June 1928.
Max & Alice Warburg, Hamburg and New York, by whom acquired from the above on 29 October 1928.
Eric M. Warburg, Hamburg, by descent from the above.
Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zurich, by whom acquired from the above in 1974.
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 2 January 1984.
Das Kunstblatt, vol. 12, Berlin, July 1928, p. 199 (illustrated p. 197).
‘Kokoschka und Kolbe in London‘, in Der Cicerone, Leipzig, vol. 20, January 1928, no. 1, p. 488 (illustrated p. 542).
P.O. Rave, ‘Kokoschka in London‘, in Der Kunstwanderer, vol. 9, Berlin, July 1928, p. 496.
G. Biermann, ‘Oskar Kokoschka‘, in Der Cicerone, Leipzig, vol. 21, January 1929, no. 1, pp. 19-24.
H. Heilmaier, Kokoschka, Paris, 1929 (illustrated fig. 30).
W. Born, ‘Neue Bilder von Oskar Kokoschka‘, in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, vol. 67, no. 2, Darmstadt, November 1930 (illustrated after p. 84).
A. Basler, ‘Deutsche und Schweizer in Paris‘, in Kunst und Künstler, Berlin, vol. 29, no. 9, June 1931, pp. 360–361.
Art News, New York, vol. 29, 25 April 1931, p. 20.
P. Fierens, Nouvelles littéraires, 11 April 1931.
M. Gauthie, L'Art vivant, Paris, 1 April 1931, p. 182.
‘Paris urteilt über Kokoschka‘, in Der Kunstwanderer, Berlin, vol. 13, June 1931, pp. 304 und 306.
H. Tietze, Cahiers d'art, Paris, vol. 6, no. 3, 1931, p. 168.
Weltkunst, Nr. 13, 29 March 1931, p. 11.
‘Verboten Kokoschka at Galerie St. Etienne‘, in Art Digest, New York, vol. 17, 15 April 1943, p. 16.
‘Kokoschka: New View of a Visionary‘, in Art News, New York, vol. 42, 15 April 1943, p. 23.
H. Platschek, Oskar Kokoschka, Buenos Aires, 1946 (illustrated fig. 33).
E. Hoffmann, Kokoschka: Life and Work, London, 1947, no. 224, pp. 190-191 (illustrated fig. L).
H.M. Wingler, Oskar Kokoschka, Das Werk des Malers, Salzburg, 1956, no. 236, p. 318 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
H. Schade, ‘Oskar Kokoschka: Ein “unzeitgemäßer” Künstler‘, in Stimmen der Zeit, Freiburg, vol. 178, year 91, no. 7, 1965-1966, no. 67, pp. 58-65.
J.P. Hodin, Oskar Kokoschka: Sein Leben, seine Zeit, Berlin, 1968, pp. 281-282.
O. Kokoschka, Mein Leben, Munich, 1971, p. 217.
E. Schlumberger, ‘Vagabond en Europe‘, in Connaissance des arts, no. 375, Paris, May 1983, pp. 82-85, no. 24, p. 102 (illustrated).
O. Kokoschka & H. Spielmann, eds., Oskar Kokoschka: Briefe, vol. 2, 1919-1934, Düsseldorf, 1985, pp. 189-192.
Letter from Kokoschka to Anna Kallin, 3 March 1928, in O. Kokoschka & A. Marnau, Oskar Kokoschka Letters 1905-1976, London, 1992, pp. 123 & 278.
J. Winkler & K. Erling, Oskar Kokoschka, Die gemälde 1906-1929, Salzburg, 1995, no. 247, pp. 140-141 (illustrated p. 141).
S. Keegan, The Eye of God. A life of Oskar Kokoschka, London, 1999, p. 156.
H. Spielmann, Oskar Kokoschka: Leben und Werk, Cologne, 2003, p. 261 (illustrated p. 286).
K. Erling, Das eigentliche Thema ist das Erlebnis der Ewigkeit: Reise nach Nordafrika, Pfäffikon, 2005, pp. 93-102.
G. Bauer, Schulung von Auge und Hand. Die Skizzenbücher Oskar Kokoschkas, Vienna, 2008, pp. 47-52 (illustrated p. 49).
B. Dalbajewa, ‘Und der Himmel für uns Europäer ganz neuartig gefärbt: Max Slevogt, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka in Ägypten‘, in A. Dehmer & H. Biedermann, eds., Max Slevogt: Die Reise nach Ägypten 1914, Dresden, 2014, p. 32.
K. Erling, W. Feilchenfeldt & S. Staub Kaufmann, Oskar Kokoschka: The Paintings Online, no. 1928/4 (illustrated), accessed 1 March 2021.
London, Leicester Galleries, Oskar Kokoschka, June 1928, no. 19.
Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Oskar Kokoschka, March - April 1931, no. 34 (titled ‘Biskra, caravane’).
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Oskar Kokoschka: Aspects of His Art, March - April 1943.
Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Oskar Kokoschka: A Retrospective Exhibition, October - November 1948, no. 46 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Washington, D.C., Phillips Memorial Gallery, December 1948 - January 1949; St. Louis, City Art Museum, February - March 1949; San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, April - May 1949; Wilmington, Delaware Art Center, June - July 1949; and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, July - October 1949.
Hamburg, Kunstverein, Oskar Kokoschka, December 1962 - January 1963, no. 49 (illustrated).
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Oskar Kokoschka, June - July 1966, no. 67.
Bregenz, Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis, Oskar Kokoschka: Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, July - September 1976, no. 16 (illustrated fig. XXIV).
Pöchlarn, Geburtshaus des Künstlers and Raiffeisenbank Pöchlarn, Oskar Kokoschka: Gemälde und Graphik 1908-1976, June - September 1980, no. 4.
Vienna, Österreichische Länderbank, Aufbruch in die Moderne, 1880–1980: Ausstellung anläßlich des 100jährigen Bestehens der Österreichischen Länderbank, September 1980 - February 1981, no. 9.
Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, May - September 1983, no. 24 (illustrated p. 102).
Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Hommage à Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, April - June 1984, no. 12, p. 34 (illustrated p. 41).
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Oskar Kokoschka 1886-1980, September - November 1986, no. 72 (illustrated).
Vienna, Kunstforum Länderbank, Oskar Kokoschka, March - June 1991, no. 50 (illustrated).
Passau, Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Wörlen, Landschaften eines Jahrhunderts, Sammlung Deutsche Bank, February – April 2000; this exhibition later travelled to Lübeck, Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte der Hansestadt Lübeck, St. Annen Museum, May – June 2000; Duisburg, Museum Küppersmühle, June – October 2000; Offenburg, Kunstverein und Städtische Galerie, October – November 2000; Oldenburg, Landesmuseum, January – March 2001; Aschaffenburg, Jesuitenkirche, April – June 2001; Augsburg, Toskanische Säulenhalle im Zeughaus und Foyer-Galerie, June – July 2001; Alzey, Bruggrafiat, October – November 2001; St. Inbert Museum, February – April 2002; and Kapstadt, National Gallery, August – November 2002.
Pfäffikon, Seedamm Kulturzentrum, Stiftung Charles und Agnes Vögele, Kokoschka: Beziehungen zur Schweiz, November 2005 - February 2006, pp. 100 & 193 (illustrated fig. 75).
Linz, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Oskar Kokoschka, Ein Vagabund in Linz wild, verfemt, gefeiert, May - October 2008, p. 98 (illustrated p. 99).
Ravenna, Museo d’Arte della città, LArtista Viaggiatore, da Gauguin a Klee, da Matisse a Ontani, February – June 2009.
Vienna, Leopold Museum, Kokoschka: Das Ich im Brennpunkt, October 2013 - January 2014, pp. 128 & 338 (illustrated p. 124).
Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, Biskra, reine du desert, September 2016 – January 2017.
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Oskar Kokoschka: Expressionist, Migrant, Europäer, December 2018 - March 2019, no. 62 (illustrated p. 169); this exhibition later travelled to Vienna, Leopold Museum, April 2019 - July 2019.
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Lot Essay

Created over the course of a week in late February 1928, Exodus (Col de Sfa bei Biskra) is one of just five paintings Oskar Kokoschka created during his inaugural trip to North Africa, a long-awaited and much dreamed of voyage that took him away from Europe for almost six months. His travelling companion for much of the journey was Dr. Helmuth Lütjens, founding director of the Amsterdam branch of Paul Cassirer & Co., whom the artist had met in 1925 during a trip to the Netherlands. The pair arrived by boat into Carthage in early January, moving directly on to Tunis, where Kokoschka painted a view of the bustling Bab Souika market place from the roof of a local fruit merchant. After several weeks, they travelled in-land to Tozeur, encountering nomadic tribes along the route, before moving on to Biskra, Algeria, by car. Throughout the trip, Kokoschka was deeply impressed by the epic landscapes he encountered, their sweeping vistas and atmospheric play of light calling to mind scenes from the Old Testament and stoking his imagination.

Every morning between the 22nd and the 29th of February, Kokoschka had himself driven to the Col de Sfa, about eight kilometres north of Biskra, on the edge of the desert. From here, he could see nomadic tribes ‘far away on the plain, moving towards the Atlas, while from all directions other tribes were converging to join them’ (Kokoschka, quoted in S. Keegan, The Eye of God: A Life of Oskar Kokoschka, London, 1999, p. 156). Burning small bundles of newspaper in an effort to keep the clouds of mosquitos away from his eyes, Kokoschka began to paint the panoramic view from the foothills of the Aurès Mountains. Writing home to his family in Vienna, he described the scene: ‘I’m sitting in the desert and painting. I’m being driven back and forth by a car with my stuff. Every now and then caravans come by… They’re slowly pulling along their animals, camels and sheep in the mountains, because in the south, where the real desert is, it is already boiling’ (quoted in J. Winkler and K. Erling, Oskar Kokoschka: Die Gemalde 1906-1929, Salzburg, 1995, p. 141). Similarly, in a letter to his paramour Anna Kallin just a day after embarking upon the present composition, he proclaimed: ‘The landscape is really beautiful. You can see endlessly, lots of little hills’ (ibid.).

With its vivid, warm palette and flickering brushwork, Exodus (Col de Sfa bei Biskra) is filled with the evocative traces of Kokoschka’s experiences on the edge of the desert. The swirling sands stretch out before the viewer, capturing an impression of the endless arid wilderness as it extends towards the horizon. A caravan of people, camels, horses, goats and sheep makes its way along a path that snakes through the undulating landscape, their forms growing larger as they progress towards the artist, and yet still remaining dwarfed by the sheer immensity and expanse of their surroundings. As is typical of Kokoschka’s landscapes of this period, the scene is painted from an elevated viewpoint, accentuating the impression of depth as the eye is drawn towards the distant mountains, while the changeable sky casts a dynamic play of light and shadow across the scene.

Kokoschka’s technique had gradually evolved during his travels through the 1920s, in response to his desire to capture the scenes he encountered quickly, before he was forced to move on. He began to mix turpentine into his oil paints, lending his pigments a new, supple, flowing materiality that allowed him to switch between broad areas of atmospheric colour and passages of concentrated linear, graphic drawing. Here, the canvas is filled with these rippling, fluid strokes of the brush, the North African landscape and its inhabitants demarcated in a sparkling range of tones, from bright violet, burnt orange and scarlet reds, to subtly modulated golds, soft greens and cool blues.

At the end of a week working on the scene, Kokoschka declared Exodus (Col de Sfa bei Biskra) complete: ‘[...] my picture is finished. As good as a Reubens sketch. With an insane line like a Fragonard. And I would be jealous if someone else painted it again. Thank God!’ (ibid.). The painting was consigned to the Kunstsalon Paul Cassirer in Berlin on Kokoschka’s return to Europe, and purchased shortly thereafter by Max Warburg, the director of M. M. Warburg & Co. bank in Hamburg, and his wife Alice. The painting remained with the Warburgs when they emigrated to New York in the late 1930s, and subsequently passed to their son Eric, with whom it remained for a further three decades.

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