Monday, April 9, 2012

MOPP - the case of Max Oppenheimer

The painter and printmaker Max Oppenheimer (MOPP) was born in Vienna in 1885. From 1900-1903 he studied at the Vienna Academy, and from 1903-1906 at the Prague Academy. He was one of the 16 founders of the modernist Neukunstgruppe, whose central figure was Egon Schiele, with whom Oppenheimer shared a studio in 1910. Oppenheimer was also influenced by Gustav Klimt, and especially by Oskar Kokoschka. From 1911 he began using the pseudonym MOPP, formed from his initial and the first three letters of his surname. In 1912 he moved to Berlin. Medically unfit for military service, Max Oppenheimer spent the years of WWI in Switzerland. Over the years Oppenheimer's art absorbed the aesthetics of Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Expressionism, Dada, and Cubism, while remaining always rooted in his own personality. 

Max Oppenheimer, Quartett
Etching, 1932

Music and musicians were a constant source of inspiration for Max Oppenheimer, as in his etching Quartett, which infuses Cubist technique with Expressionist vitality. With the rise of the Nazis, the position of Oppenheimer, who was a Jew, a homosexual, and a "degenerate" artist, became perilous. His works were removed from German museums in 1937. The following year he emigrated to the USA, via Switzerland. Max Oppenheimer lived for the rest of his life in New York, where he died in 1954.


Jane Librizzi said...

I saw a similar Oppenheimer musical picture at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan (in color). Too bad, his work is often overshadowed by his more famous friends. I think he had a falling out with that circle, as people with a lot in common often do, over who did what first. Thanks.

Atelier Conti said...

Great story, Neil. What process is the print you feature here? I can't quite imagine how it was done, unless it is a lithograph.

Philip Wilkinson said...

A beautiful print. I wonder which quartet it was. I was interested to see that the cellist is in the middle, rather than on the right-hand end as is usual in modern string quartets, as if he has swapped places with the viola player. The fine young Czech group, the Pavel Hass Quartet, sit in a similar way – I wonder if it's a Central European thing.

Philip Wilkinson said...

That should have been 'Pavel Haas' in my comment above. I love the way the artist has merged the background, the players, and the instruments, so that there is this sense of vibrant movement, as indeed there is when four string players get together in a quartet. There's an odd thing about it, though, which is the lack of artistic engagement with the players' eyes; but the musicians wrapped up in the music, I guess.