Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mi Alma

A night that began with slices of raw scallops in truffle oil and crushed pistachios, will inevitably end in a conversation about Alma Mahler.

Miryam, who owns a gallery in Vienna and another in Berlin, just spoke about the morbidity of current Viennese art. Now she's somehow moved on to Oskar Kokoschka, one of Mahler's esteemed lovers: "He was an ugly man, I am not surprised at all she left him. You know, when she left him, he didn't take it well at all. Do you know this story?"


"He went to a special workshop where they make the best dolls and asked for a big doll, a mannequin, that would be made to look exactly like her. He desrcibed the lips, the skin, everything about the shape of her body..."

"He wanted to be a Pygmalion," someone at the table interrupts.

"Yes, but when he came to pick it up, he was disappointed. It wasn't her. So he went home and painted for her instead, the "Bride of the Wind", but she was already far away."

"Went on to Franz Werfel," I contribute a piece of random knowledge.

"That's only eventually, after she left Gropius. You know, Werfel was even uglier than Kokoschka, and she effected his creative powers very interestingly. She was so independent for her time, very wild in a way. She didn't want men to come and sort things out for her. In my eyes she was herself a very special artist."

I lean back, taking one last precious swig of the Grand Castel. I would love to meet someone like that.

(Note: it would be sacriligious to put "Bride of the Wind" on a blog, so I'm posting what seems to be only its background. This Kokoschka Dalamite lanscape also looks very cool somehow next to my "Sri Lankan Rivers are Elephantine".)


DL said...

untrue. he painted the "bride of the wind" when they were still together. in fact, rumor says she was pregnant with his child at the time. she had always promised him she's marry him once he painted a masterpiece & so he used the Venetian Blue he bought when the two of them went to venice, and painted the "bride of the wind". she then went away to a clinic, aborted the child, and left him.
then came the alma doll, which he carried around with him for months, and threw away from a window, causing a riot in the street because bystanders thought he was killing a woman.
alma, true, went on to marry gropius, whom she left for werfel later. she did say, in the end of her life, that it was kokoschka's art she felt closest to - more than all her much more famous lovers. and he said, that since the middle ages there wasn't a love affair as stormy, as passionate, as theirs. he wrote it to her on her 80th birthday, a letter that started with "you are now 80, and without me". he missed her til the day he died.

Yuval said...

I think she was better off being 80 and without him. That doll story is just too much. "Bride of the wind", however, is a masterpiece of a magnitude that may justify sticking with a lunatic. One gentleman around the table last night said that he thought "nothing of it". I'd have poured a jar of venitian blue in his face if I had any.

Thank you, DL, for your scholarship and passion. You know how to make a love story truly legendary.