EGON SCHIELE

a tortured artist

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter born June 12 1890 and died October 31 1918. A protege of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including naked self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.

klimpt and
first exhibitions

Portrait of Arthur Rossler, 1910

In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt, who generously mentored younger artists. Klimt took a particular interest in the young Schiele, buying his drawings, offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons. He also introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkst├Ątte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. In 1908 Schiele had his first exhibition, in Klosterneuburg. Schiele left the Academy in 1909, after completing his third year, and founded the Neukunstgruppe ("New Art Group") with other dissatisfied students.

Klimt invited Schiele to exhibit some of his work at the 1909 Vienna Kunstschau, where he encountered the work of Edvard Munch, Jan Toorop, and Vincent van Gogh among others. Once free of the constraints of the Academy's conventions, Schiele began to explore not only the human form, but also human sexuality. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works disturbing.

From then on, Schiele participated in numerous group exhibitions, including those of the Neukunstgruppe in Prague in 1910 and Budapest in 1912; the Sonderbund, Cologne, in 1912; and several Secessionist shows in Munich, beginning in 1911. In 1913, the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, mounted Schiele's first solo show. A solo exhibition of his work took place in Paris in 1914.

style

Self Portrait

In his early years, Schiele was strongly influenced by Klimt and Kokoschka. Although imitations of their styles, particularly with the former, are noticeably visible in Schiele's first works, he soon evolved into his own distinctive style.

Schiele's earliest works between 1907 and 1909 contain strong similarities with those of Klimt,[6] as well as influences from Art Nouveau.[7] In 1910, Schiele began experimenting with nudes and within a year a definitive style featuring emaciated, sickly-coloured figures, often with strong sexual overtones. Schiele also began painting and drawing children.

Progressively, Schiele's work grew more complex and thematic, and after his imprisonment in 1912 he dealt with themes such as death and rebirth,[9] although female nudes remained his main output. During the war Schiele's paintings became larger and more detailed, when he had the time to produce them. His military service however gave him limited time, and much of his output consisted of linear drawings of scenery and military officers. Around this time Schiele also began experimenting with the theme of motherhood and family.[10] His wife Edith was the model for most of his female figures, but during the war due to circumstance, many of his sitters were male. Since 1915, Schiele's female nudes had become fuller in figure, but many were deliberately illustrated with a lifeless doll-like appearance. Towards the end of his life, Schiele drew many natural and architectural subjects. His last few drawings consisted of female nudes, some in masturbatory poses.

Some view Schiele's work as being grotesque, erotic, pornographic, or disturbing, focusing on sex, death, and discovery. He focused on portraits of others as well as himself. In his later years, while he still worked often with nudes, they were done in a more realist fashion. He also painted tributes to Van Gogh's Sunflowers as well as landscapes and still lifes.

legacy

Max Oppenheimer 1910

Schiele was the subject of the biographical film, Excess and Punishment (aka Egon Schiele Exzess und Bestrafung), a 1980 film originating in Germany with a European cast that explores Schiele's artistic demons leading up to his early death. The film was directed by Herbert Vesely and stars Mathieu Carriere as Schiele, Jane Birkin as his early artistic muse Wally Neuzil, Christine Kaufman as his wife, Edith Harms, and Kristina Van Eyck as her sister, Adele Harms. Also in 1980, the Arts Council of Great Britain produced a documentary film, Schiele in Prison, which looked at the circumstances of Schiele's imprisonment and the veracity of his diary.

Joanna Scott's 1990 novel Arrogance was based on Schiele's life and makes him the main figure. His life was also depicted in a theatrical dance production by Stephan Mazurek called Egon Schiele, presented in May 1995, for which Rachel's, an American post-rock group, composed a score titled Music for Egon Schiele.[13] For The Featherstonehaughs contemporary dance company, Lea Anderson choreographed The Featherstonehaughs Draw On The Sketchbooks Of Egon Schiele in 1997.

Schiele's life and work have also been the subject of essays, including a discussion of his works by fashion photographer Richard Avedon in an essay on portraiture entitled "Borrowed Dogs."[15] Mario Vargas Llosa uses the work of Schiele as a conduit to seduce and morally exploit a main character in his 1997 novel The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto.[16] Wes Anderson's film The Grand Budapest Hotel features a painting by Rich Pellegrino that is modeled after Schiele's style which, as part of a theft, replaces a so-called Flemish/Renaissance masterpiece, but is then destroyed by the angry owner when he discovers the deception.

Julia Jordan based her 1999 play Tatjana in Color, which was produced off-Broadway at The Culture Project during the fall of 2003, on a fictionalization of the relationship between Shiele and the 12-year-old Tatjana von Mossig, the Neulengbach girl whose morals he was ultimately convicted of corrupting for allowing her to see his paintings.

gallery