Max Oppenheimer

1885 Vienna - 1954 New York

Max Oppenheimer, a native of Vienna and son of writer Ludwig Oppenheimer, began to study art at the Vienna Academy of fine Arts in the classes of Sigmund L`Allemand and Christian Griepenkerl at the age of fifteen. Continuing from 1903 he studied at the Prague Art Academy. In 1906 Max Oppenheimer joined the Prague group 'OSMA' (the Eight), one of the first associations of Czech avant-garde artists. At the time Oppenheimer's style revealed a growing interest in Impressionist painting, especially that of Max Liebermann. In 1908 Max Oppenheimer moved back to Vienna, joining the circle of Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. His encounter with Kokoschka's painting exerted a formative influence on Oppenheimer, especially in the field of the psychological portrait. He executed portraits from - e.g. - Heinrich Mann, Peter Altenberg, Arthur Schnitzler, Arnold Schönberg. Around 1910 he started signing with “MOPP”. After participating in several group shows, Oppenheimer had his first one-man show at the Moderne Galerie in Munich in 1911. That same year Oppenheimer began to work on the journal 'Die Aktion', founded by Franz Pfemfert in Berlin. In 1915 Oppenheimer moved to Switzerland, where he would remain, with interruptions, until 1924. His style of painting subsequently incorporated Cubist elements that would become characteristic of his work. Introduced to Dada in 1916, Oppenheimer participated in the first Dada exhibition in Zurich that year. Oppenheimer embarked on his celebrated orchestra scenes, which were shown in 1924 at a large-scale group exhibition mounted by the Vienna Hagenbund. Oppenheimer went to Berlin again in 1926 but by 1931 the political situation in Germany was so fraught [sic!] that he decided to return to Vienna. A year later his work was confiscated during the widespread wave of persecution of Jews and SA defamation of their work that followed the Reichstag fire. In 1932 Oppenheimer participated a last time in a group show at the Vienna Künstlerhaus before fleeing to Switzerland in 1938. In 1939 Oppenheimer emigrated to the US, where his work revealed a reversion to earlier ideas.


Wilhelm Michel, Max Oppenheimer, Munich 1911; Thomas Mann, Symphonie, in: Berliner Tageblatt, 12.1.1926; Max Oppenheimer, Menschen finden ihren Maler, Zürich 1938; Die uns verließen. Österreichische Maler und Bildhauer der Emigration und Verfolgung, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna 1980, pp.162; Michael Pabst, Max Oppenheimer, Verzeichnis der Druckgrafik, Munich 1993; MOPP. Max Oppenheimer 1885 - 1954, Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Vienna 1994; Marie-Agnes von Puttkamer, Max Oppenheimer 1885 - 1954 / Leben und malerisches Werk, Vienna 1999