Egon Schiele: Fascination and Provocation
ART – the colours of fall, dynamic and constructive composition, a sensitive stroke.
DEATH – died in 1918 at only 28 years old – the ‘James Dean of Austrian Expressionism‘.
INTENSITY - the purity of his pretence, unconditional view; radical nature of response – still provokes.
SUBJECT – matter was sexuality, nudity, existential distress, psychological complexity, physical decay and death, but also love, the language of houses and trees, the quest of the eyes, and the self.
Egon Schiele - Genius, on par with Caravaggio, Mozart, Kleist, Schubert, Gerstl…
Egon Schiele was born June 12, 1890 in Tulln, a small town in Lower Austria. He attended school in Tulln, Krems and Klosterneuburg, but was a mediocre student. His performance was unsatisfactory except in one field: drawing. His teachers recognized talent and thus Schiele entered, at the youthful age of sixteen, the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
The self-assurance of this early bloomer was so consummate that he was able to leave the Academy at the early age of eighteen and found the artist association ‘Neukunstgruppe’ (New Art Group). Soon after his first participation in exhibitions he attracted the attention of the Vienna art world. Gustav Klimt became his mentor, but great success failed to materialise. Disappointed by the urban art scene, he retreated for a period of time with his companion in life Wally Neuzil to Český Krumlov and Neulengbach, close to Vienna. His promiscuity provoked provincial life and he ended up in prison for a month. When he returned to Vienna he moved into a studio in Hietzing and married Edith Harms. In 1915 he was drafted into the army but held positions that enabled him to follow his artistic endeavours alongside his military duty.
Schiele’s last years were his most successful. He had advanced to stardom within the Vienna art scene following Klimt’s death in February 1918, but before his international career could take off, he died on October 31, 1918, the victim of an influenza epidemic.
Schiele is considered the proponent of Austrian Expressionism. In his short life, he developed a distinct imagery, which had no real successor. Schiele was, and is, one-of-a-kind.
The Leopold Museum houses 44 paintings and 180 watercolours and drawings, the largest collection of Egon Schiele’s art in the World. In the 1950′s, Rudolf Leopold (1925-2010) started to collect Schiele’s work; this during a period when it was still met with hostility and considered degenerate. It is due to Professor Leopold and his wife, Elisabeth, that the Leopold Museum is the ideal showcase for this artist.