Max Oppenheimer (1885 - 1954)

Oppenheimer, an Austrian painter and printmaker, trained at Vienna's Akademie der Bildenden and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.

Along with Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, he helped to form the Austrian Expressionist movement in painting, with the three artists striving above all else to capture their subjects' psychological and mental characteristics. Existential needs and fears, as well as Christian dogma were dominant theme for Oppenheimer. His provocative work maintained a close affinity to the literature of the period, calling upon shocking subject-matter as a weapon in the fight against a reality that had become unbearable.

Moving to Berlin in 1912, Oppenheimer executed illustrations for Die Aktion and dabbled with etchings. But it was in 1915, after relocating to Zurich that the artist developed his most powerful form of expression: representations of music using Futurist stylistic devices. Though he had been signing his work "Mopp" since 1910, it wasn't until 1919 that he officially changed his name to Mopp. He is most widely lauded for his depictions of the modern city, using a mixture of Futurism and Neue Sachlichkeit. The explosive concerto seen here promotes a Viennese exhibition of his work, a turbulent, provocative design that explores the passionate, sometimes messy exuberance situated at the heart of the creative process.

1916 The chess-players

1920s Die Schachpartie

1940 Emanuel Lasker

1942 Chess with Emanuel Lasker

MOPP maintains the same energetic touch as before, and appears even to reprise the same narrative trick: Lasker (right) is not actually playing a game against Herr Grün-Jacket, they are playing over the moves of someone else's game, the one in the red book, and Herr Blau-Jacket is calling it out. This explains why Herr G-J tolerates with Lasker's slovenly chess etiquette – in a proper game he wouldn't put up with his opponent dropping fag ash on d3.

How was it that MOPP was painting chess champ Lasker in Berlin? Some clue may come from Lasker's kith and kin. His older brother Berthold was married from 1894 and 1899 to Else Lasker-Schülers, a poet who a year or so later married the founder of Der Sturm, the Haus magazine of German Expressionism. Unsurprisingly her work graced its columns at length. Even without assuming some cordiality among ex-in-laws (a big ask) Lasker must have been moving in the same circles as the leading lights of the Mittel-European intelligentsia, for whom MOPP was court painter doing a nice line in "psychological portraiture", having had his own done by Egon Schiele (see first picture), no less.

1942 Chess for Fun Chess for Blood

MOPP illustrated this book for Lasker. The book was published in Philadelphia by McKay Publishing in 1942. MOPP his black and white drawings give the book a special charm. The drawings include a portrait of the writer Laser.

Drawings describing the content of a chapter:

Drawings for the capitals at each section of the book: