Richard Gerstl

Austria 1883 - 1908



Compared to Kokoschka as the only other artist from the generation following the Secession members to produce something outstanding. He committed suicide. Expressionist. Worked in isolation. Sought contact with musicians including Schoenberg with whom's family he lodged and whose portrait he painted. "His art, savage in character, with a tinge of mania and an amazing impasto technique" influenced the composer's experiments with oil paint.

Studied under Griepenkerl at the Academy and with Hungerian painter Holosy at Nagy-Banya, but in large his art is independent of the influence of his teachers. Some formal and colouristic connection with the work of Klimt and Munch. Largely original in conception and development.

Invited in 1906 by painter Heinrich Lefler to attend his special painting class at the Academy and for the last two years of his life, worked under Lefler's eye. Lefler considered organizing an exhibition of his work in Vienna, but decided against it 'in order to avoid provoking a public scandal.' Shares Kokoschka visionary quality and depth of psychological penetration with more violent abbreviations of form.

One of his last paintings, Laughing Self Portrait is "one of the most striking, even haunting images of early Expressionist art."



1)    Art in Vienna 1898 - 1918, Peter Vergo Phaidon Press Limited, Oxford, Second Impression 1986. First Published 1975.