A naked man and woman are lying against the dark night. They are not in a comfortable bed, though. It looks like a stormy night-sea or clouds of the night sky. Despite the gloomy atmosphere, the woman seems to be peacefully asleep in the man’s arms. However, the man is staring into space with his eyes open as if he has worries.
This memorable painting is a representative piece by Austrian expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka. He was outstanding at depicting the emotions of models by using anxious lines, bold colors, and exaggerated facial features and body movements. The models of the painting are the painter himself and his lover Alma Mahler. Alma was an excellent composer and talented writer who had already composed dozens of songs in her teens. Many men proposed to her as she had striking beauty and sociability. She married well-known composer Gustav Mahler who was 19 years older than her. However, she suffered depression as Mahler banned her from composing after they got married. The couple’s marriage ended in just nine years as Mahler passed away.
At the age of 31, she was still beautiful and attractive. She received much courtship but chose Kokoschka who was seven years younger than her. The two began a passionate relationship soon after they met. The painter created many paintings of her and shared ardent love. However, Alma quickly became bored with the young painter who was obsessed with her. The painting titled “The Bride of the Wind” was created right before the couple broke up. Kokoschka in the painting is staying up late at night, perhaps due to ominous anticipation, unlike his lover who is asleep. A turbulent sea from the wind and the black sun represent the painter’s anxiousness.
Extreme emotions like a storm can easily cool down. Flame-like love is hard to sustain. Kokoschka tried to depict him and his lover as a couple to last forever in the painting but Alma left him like the wine soon after the painting was finished. She remarried promising young architect Walter Gropius but Kokoschka had missed and loved only her until his death.