Art: Mr. Oxygen

Into the Vienna gallery strode the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the crowns of Austria and Hungary. He took one look at the exhibition, and cried out in horror: "This man's bones should be broken in his body!" The violent paintings and portraits, with their savage slashes of color, their gnarled hands and twisted faces, didn't please the critics either. "Disgusting plague sores," one critic called them. "Puddles of foul stink." And the artist, he added, was "a mangy creature."

The mangy creature, Oskar Kokoschka, was only 24 at the time (1911), but he was already storming his shocking way to the...

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