The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
For the Austrian Expressionist painter and writer Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980), the years of the Great War of 1914-1918 marked a decisive period both in his personal life and in his professional career. His three-year tempestuous love affair with Alma Mahler, widow of the composer Gustav Mahler and the major inspiration for Kokoschka's work, ended badly when Alma aborted their child. Meanwhile, Kokoschka, pacifist and humanitarian by nature and education, volunteered for military duty and was gravely wounded in 1915 while fighting at the Ukranian front. He spent months in a Swedish hospital recovering from severe head and chest injuries and later went to Dresden, where he became known for a time as the “mad Kokoschka.” But fate had not yet finished with him: in 1918 two of his colleagues who had had a great influence on him during his formative years in Vienna died during the influenza epidemic, Gustav Klimt at age 55 (JAMA cover, February 13, 2008) and Egon Schiele at age 28. Kokoschka was left as the principal spokesman for Austrian Expressionism. He was 32.
Southgate MT. Double Portrait of Trudl. JAMA. 2008;299(11):1230. doi:10.1001/jama.299.11.1230
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