Egon Schiele

The shock of the new doesn’t last long in modern art, and what provokes scandal today will quickly become tomorrow’s artistic establishment. That Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) or Damien Hirst’s preserved shark were once so profoundly controversial makes the uneasiness Egon Schiele’s paintings and drawings still inspire even more remarkable.

Nearly 100 years have passed since Schiele’s death, and yet none of the anxiety surrounding his Expressionist repertoire of emaciated nudes and masturbatory self-portraits has diminished. Few artists have been so starkly frank in their exploration of sexuality or so dangerously close to straining taboo to breaking point.

Schiele was born in Tulln, Austria, the son of the town’s stationmaster. At the age of 16 he moved to Vienna to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. Vienna in the early 1900s was in the grip of an artistic revolution — in 1897 Gustav Klimt had formed the Viennese Secession, a movement that believed an artist’s duty was to free culture from the grips of the establishment. Klimt, whom Schiele greatly admired, became the young artist’s mentor, and in 1909 Schiele followed Klimt’s example and left the conservative strictures of the Academy to form his own movement, the Neukunstgruppe.

By the early 1910s, his work had become an obsessive exploration of the human body. Images such as Self-portrait, Nude (1910) or Two Girls Lying Entwined (1915), though near-pornographic, defy the conventional platitudes of eroticism. Schiele’s nakedness is starved, desperate, mortal and stripped of all societal and artistic convention.

In 1912, Schiele was arrested for the alleged seduction of one of his underage models. The charge was not proven but he spent 24 days in prison, condemned for the indecency of his work. It was a public vilification that belied Schiele’s commercial and critical success — throughout his short career museums and collectors from across Europe would continue to buy his work.

Schiele’s pregnant wife, who had appeared in some of his most tender work, such as The Embrace (1917), died in the influenza pandemic of 1918. Schiele was to follow her a few days later. He was only 28.

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Selbstbildnis mit Modell (Fragment)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Mann und Frau (Umarmung)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegende Frau mit grünen Hausschuhen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Sitzendes Mädchen mit schwarzen Strümpfen und vorgehaltenen Händen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stehender Rückenakt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Akt mit roten Strumpfbänder ( recto ); Liegender Akt ( verso )

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stadt am blauen Fluss (Krumau)

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Frau, das Gesicht verbergend

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Kniendes Mädchen, sich den Rock über den Kopf ziehend

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Selbstbildnis

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt mit angezogenem linken Bein

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Zwei Mädchen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Frau in Unterwäsche und Strümpfen (Valerie Neuzil)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Landschaft (Ruine Weitenegg)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Selbstbildnis

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Sitzende in Unterwäsche, Rückenansicht

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Mädchenakt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegendes Mädchen in dunkelblauem Kleid

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Mann auf dem Bauch liegend

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender weiblicher Akt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt mit schwarzen Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt mit schwarzen Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stehender weiblicher Akt (Gerti Schiele)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Mädchenkopf (Frau Sohn)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Erich Lederer Standing with Hand on Hip

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Weiblicher Torso in Unterwäsche und schwarzen Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Frau mit erhobenem Bein und lila Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Frau mit erhobenem Bein und lila Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Weiblicher Torso

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stehende Frau mit Schuen und Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Mädchenkopf (Frau Sohn)

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Sitzende Frau mit schwarzen Strümpfen

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Sitzender Bub mit gefalteten Händen (recto) ; Bildnisstudie Dr. Oskar Reichel mit erhobener linker Hand (verso)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegendes Mädchen mit roter Bluse

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Erich Lederer, Drawing on the Floor (recto); Erich Lederer in Profile, Hand to Head (verso)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Frauenbildnis

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Junge auf dem Bauch

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Sitzendes Mädchen mit Hut, onanierend ( recto ); Mädchenakt ( verso )

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegendes schlafendes Mädchen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Stehender Mönch von rechts hinten

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Female Nude (recto); Head of a Young Man (Hans Massmann) (verso)

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Weiblicher Torso in Unterwäsche und schwarzen Strümpfen

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Liegender Akt mit gehobenem Bein

Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Mime van Osen

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Dorf am Fluss II