Between 2008 and 2012, the Fondation Oskar Kokoschka, the Institute for the History of Art and Museology at the University of Neuchâtel and the Zentralbibliothek Zürich have been working together in order to research lesser known aspects of the work of the painter and writer. Of primary importance was the cataloguing and publication of Kokoschka’s written archives. These comprise more than 30,000 documents and are held by the Manuscript Department of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich. The project leader (Régine Bonnefoit) and two postgraduate students (Annette Windisch and Francine Vuillème) were supported financially in this period by the Swiss National Research Council and the Fondation Oskar Kokoschka. In the years 2010 and 2011, the group realized three exhibitions and two publications in close collaboration with the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, the Oskar Kokoschka Centre at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Liner Foundation, Appenzell:
On 14 April 2010, the exhibition ‘Spur im Treibsand’ – Oskar Kokoschka neu gesehen. Briefe und Bilder was opened in the exhibition hall of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich. It displayed unknown manuscripts, drawings and photographs from the artist’s written estate as well as works in the possession of the Fondation Oskar Kokoschka. Pictures and texts elucidated each other and found a complement in each other, rather like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Documents were displayed pertaining to the artist’s biography, his loves and passions, his partners, his travels through Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa, his painful experiences in war, persecution and exile, his ‘School of seeing’ (the international summer academy for the visual arts that he founded in Salzburg in 1953), his activities as a set designer for both theatre and opera, and his embrace of the Ancient world after the Second World War. The research group set itself the goal of providing the visitor new, surprising insights into the life and work of the great painter and writer. The accompanying publication, bearing the same title as the exhibition, includes contributions from Gunhild Bauer (the Albertina, Vienna), Régine Bonnefoit (Fondation Oskar Kokoschka), Ruth Häusler (Zentralbibliothek Zürich), Keith Holz (Western Illinois University), Hermann Köstler (Fondation Oskar Kokoschka), Bernadette Reinhold (Oskar Kokoschka Centre at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna) and Annette Windisch (University of Neuchâtel).
On 11 July 2010, the exhibition Oskar Kokoschka – Wunderkammer / Cabinet de curiosités was opened in the Museum Liner in Appenzell. This exhibition was shown from 14 May to 4 September 2011 in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds.