PRINT November 1981



To the Editor:

Thomas Lawson’s review of an exhibition of Oskar Kokoschka’s work (Artforum, September 1981) seems to me to be critically irresponsible. In a rather offhand way, Lawson dismisses Kokoschka’s “sentimental esthetics,” and regards his art as a “curiosity” and his person as an “act” or fraud. While it is true that much of Kokoschka’s later work is unexceptional, two aspects of Kokoschka’s achievement remain noteworthy: his early portraits (ca. 1909–12) and his early (and even some of his later) “baroque impressionist” landscapes (pre- and post-World War II). Also, by refusing to understand the controversy surrounding the first appearance of Kokoschka’s work, Lawson in effect demonstrates not simply his indifference to but also his ignorance of a then current and typical European conception of the person.

Lawson has not discriminated between the stages of the artist’s development.

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