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Blum, H.P. (2011). Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler: Art as Diary and as Therapy. Psychoanal. St. Child, 65:293-309.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 65:293-309

Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler: Art as Diary and as Therapy

Harold P. Blum, M.D.

The Austrian artist, Oskar Kokoschka, had an affair with Alma Mahler, widow of the composer Gustav Mahler, 1912-1914. This affair profoundly influenced his life and art. His palette at first brightened, with thick brush strokes and flashes of light and dark, indicating his psychological and emotional lability. Painting what he did not or could not express in words, his art of this period can be understood as an intimate visual diary of the vicissitudes of his relationship with Alma Mahler. For Kokoschka his work became a form of art therapy, following the crushing loss of Alma Mahler and near fatal physical injuries sustained in World War I. His gradual recovery was associated with his extraordinary attachment to and destruction of a lifelike effigy of Alma Mahler, thereby working through childhood trauma.

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