Archive for love letters

1912 No. 1: Oskar Kokoschka writes to Alma Mahler

Posted in 1912, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by Robin Gosnall

In 1912, the artist Kokoschka embarked on a passionate three-year affair with Alma Mahler, widow of composer Gustav Mahler, and wrote her many letters. The recipient asked for her own letters back and destroyed them; we now see this tragic love affair only through the eyes of the disappointed artist who must have expected and demanded more than she was able to give.

Here’s how it started:

Vienna, 15.iv.1912

My dear friend,

Please believe this resolution, as I believed you.

I know I am lost if I continue in my present unclear way of life, I know it is the way to lose my gifts, which I ought to direct towards a goal outside myself, the goal sacred to you and to me.

If you can respect me, and are willing to be as pure as you were yesterday, when I recognized you as higher and better than all other women, who only made a savage of me, then make a real sacrifice for my sake and become my wife, in secret, for so long as I am poor. When I no longer have to conceal myself, I shall thank you for being my consolation. You shall keep your joyousness and purity for me as a source of strength, so that I do not fall into the savagery that threatens me. You shall preserve me until I can be the man who raises you up instead of dragging you down. Since yesterday, when you asked me to be that man, I have believed in you as I have never believed in anyone except myself.

If you will be the woman who gives me strength, and will thus help me out of my spiritual confusion, the beauty we honour, which is beyond our understanding, will bless us both with happiness. Write and tell me that I may come to you, and I will take it for your consent.

I remain in reverence, yours,

Oskar Kokoschka

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Tracey Emin: “Art in Britain has never been better”

Posted in Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

The artist opened her first major London retrospective today, and called it the “defining moment of her career”.

(Source: Telegraph)

Renowned for her controversial and often explicit work, she has spent a large part of her artistic career defending herself to the public. Yet today, as she opened her new show at London’s Hayward Gallery, Tracey Emin appeared markedly mellowed and presented her work with subdued confidence:

“This is the biggest defining moment of my art career. I am really proud of the exhibition. I don’t feel I have to defend it, I’m comfortable in it,” she said.

Talking about contemporary British art, she said that she was heartened that she and her fellow YBAs were “now finally getting recognition” – and added that art in Britain has never been better.

The exhibition is said to introduce the public to Emin’s lesser-known works – and self. Spanning the course of her career, the exhibition includes a series of photographs of the artist running naked down an East London street, as well as personal documents: love letters, the ashes from a shop she co-owned in 1993, archived paraphernalia and diary entries from the time of her abortion, and a blown-up photograph of her family at a village wrestling tournament on holiday in Turkey.

Her seminal work, The Tent (also called Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995) in which she famously embroidered the names of all her lovers on the inside walls is not in the show. Today Emin expressed some remorse for the work, saying that she no longer uses names in any work:

“I know the repercussions of these works … I’m still very open but I now keep a little bit to myself.”

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is at the Hayward Gallery until 29 August

Tracey Emin retrospective: in pictures

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