This work was made Oskar Kokoschka in 1909 and in the same year it was exhibited in Vienna. It is clear that it caused a stir and enormous criticism, since it was a type of painting that was not usual, because the artist had not stopped at the most beautiful aspects of a children's scene. Nowadays, the feeling is very different, and it can seem to us the most truthful and even attractive. But for the viewer and critics at the beginning of the 20th century, it was a type of image never seen before. The usual thing is that in a picture starring children, they are always happy, what's more, it can be very uncomfortable and provocative to see the sorrows of a child or see them ugly.
Children playing Kokoschka
Instead, Kokoschka eschewed that convention altogether. It is true that he looked at the children sympathetically and with deep compassion, but he had no qualms about presenting them with their clumsy movements and imperfect bodies. He even goes so far as to convey his daydreams and anxieties. If we add to that the fact that he did not use a correct, academic drawing, the result was severe criticism. But the reality is that it is an image of resounding sincerity.
The truth is that it was in a way ahead of his time, because he presented works like this when not evenexpressionist artwas in its heyday. And obviously this image has a lot of Expressionism,since it does not try to represent or imitate nature, but rather seeks to express feelings through its pictorial forms, its lines and colors.
But as we have already said, it is not an Expressionist painting. Oskar Kokoschka, along with the AustriansEgon SchieleandGustav Klimt, each with his particular pictorial language, are considered masters ofModernismEuropean. And together they formed what has been called the Vienna Sezession.
However, in the case ofKokoschka, this work represents his early art, as his painting evolved a lot over time. And you have to take into account his longevity, since he was born in 1887 and died in 1980. In the beginning he painted this type of images, which gradually earned him recognition outsideAustriafrom 1912.
That career was stopped by his participation in the World War I, after which his tendency towards expressionism became more pronounced, something that was manifested by his closeness to artistic circles such as the German group Die Brucke (The Bridge) and is also seen in his intense work as an illustrator in different publications. And later, after theWorld War II, all of his paintings are completely dominated by scenes depicting the horrors of war