BBC Music Magazine

Kokoschka’s doll


After Mahler’s death, the Expression­ist artist Oskar Kokoschka had a four-year affair with Alma (pictured together in the portrait above by Kokoschka). He was so traumatise­d by their break up that he volunteere­d for the Austrian army, and suffered brain damage while on the Eastern front. In 1918 he commission­ed Hermine Moos to make a full-sized life-like doll of Alma, constructe­d to his detailed specificat­ions. The result, with its swanskin exterior and horsehair details, he dressed in custom-made underwear and clothing. He is said to have taken it to cafés and the opera, and he made several portraits of it. He finally decapitate­d it during a wild party.

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