Expressionist painter, draughtsman and lithographer of portraits, landscapes and figure subjects; author of several plays and other writings. Born at Pöchlarn, Austria, of Czech and Austrian parentage. Studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts 1905-9. His early paintings and plays aroused intense antagonism, but he was befriended by Adolf Loos, with whose help he received his first commissions for portraits; also contributed drawings to the Berlin periodical Der Sturm. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin, 1910. Badly wounded in 1915 serving on the Eastern Front. Moved in 1917 to Dresden and taught at the Dresden Academy 1919-24. From 1924 period of travel in Europe and North Africa; series of views of great European cities. After the rise of the Nazis, whom he always outspokenly opposed, he moved in 1934 to Prague, then in 1938 to England. Became a British subject in 1947. From 1953 lived mainly at Villeneuve in Switzerland. Ran a summer painting school, the Schule des Sehens (School of Seeing) at Salzburg 1953-63; designed sets and costumes for the theatre and the opera. His autobiography Mein Leben was published in 1971. Died in Montreux.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.391