Christus am Ölberg (Christ in Gethsemane)Artist(s)Oskar KokoschkaArtist NationalityAustrianObject Creation Date1916Medium & Supportlithograph on cream laid paperDimensions
19 15/16 x 14 15/16 in. (50.5 x 37.9 cm);28 1/4 x 22 1/4 in. (71.6 x 56.36 cm);20 1/16 x 15 in. (50.9 x 38.1 cm);11 3/8 x 12 5/8 in. (28.8 x 32 cm)Credit LineAnonymous GiftLabel copy
The great hope that World War I would bring about necessary change and revitalize German society was quickly shattered, and by 1916 a deep disillusionment had set in. The national climate toward the end of the war was one of reflection and meditation on loss. That mood was captured with particular poignancy by Expressionists such as Max Beckmann, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Oskar Kokoschka with a return to religious themes in their work.
In this 1916 lithograph we see one in a series of prints Kokoschka made of the Passion, the story of the final days in the life of Christ. In this dark, evocative work the artist sets a dramatic scene using a total eclipse of the sun to herald the arrival of an angel overhead, who has come to tell Jesus of his imminent suffering and sacrifice. Jesus, at left, is separated from his two disciples by the ominous rays extending from the heavens to his feet, dividing the composition in half. Kokoschka uses this scene and the dramatic isolation of the Christ figure to illustrate the profound sense of helplessness felt by Germans in response to the war’s many horrors.
Katie Weiss, Exhibitions Assistant
"Graphic Visions: German Expressionist Prints & Drawings"
January - April 2003Primary Object ClassificationPrintCollection AreaModern and ContemporaryRights
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