Egon Schiele's Famous Artworks
“Self Portrait with Physalis,” 1912
“Valerie Neuzil in black stockings,” 1913
“Green Stockings,” 1914
“Mother with two children II,” 1915
“Death and the Maiden,” 1915
“Seated Woman with bent knee,” 1917
“The Family,” 1918
Egon Schiele was an Austrian figurative painter and protégé of Gustav Klimt. He is best known for his visceral style and bold compositions – twisting bodies into unnatural shapes to reveal their latent emotional force and expressiveness. He has exhibited his works at several galleries
around the world.
Egon Schiele's Early Life
Born in June of 1890, Egon was the child of Marie and Adolph Schiele, a station master who hoped his eldest son would follow him into the Austrian State Railways once he completed his graduation. This expectation proved to be unrealistic, as young Egon showed little interest or aptitude for academia. He was sent from his hometown of Tulln to study at a school in Krems in 1901, but his lack of facility forced a move to one in Klosterneuburg, a town in Lower Austria. However, neither a new school nor private tutors proved effective in educating Schiele, whose weak performance at academics resulted in him being held back and older than all of his classmates.
His circumstances became more severe after the death of his father in 1904. Having contracted syphilis before his marriage, Adolph Schiele had descended into insanity by the time Egon was 15 years old and left the family in a difficult financial state. His widow was forced to ask relatives for monetary help and received substantial support from her brother-in-law Leopold Czihazcek, who became co-guardian to her two younger children.
Egon Schiele's Education
Although his family thought of Schiele’s artistic ambitions as both selfish and impractical, his academic performance was abysmal enough for any hope of a university degree. Under this duress, he was allowed to apply to the School of Arts and Crafts and succeeded in securing a seat at the prestigious institution, where his future mentor Gustav Klimt had once studied. However, his career at the Kunstgewerbeschule was short-lived and he was soon asked to transfer to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste, where, at the age of 16, he was the youngest-ever pupil to be accepted.
Nonetheless, life at the Academy did not suit Schiele, who found the exacting regimen and orthodox methods a hindrance to his personal expression. His focus began to move far outside the classroom and he formed a connection with the work of Gustav Klimt, whose compositional style he began to imitate. In 1909, he signed a formal letter of protest to the school along with some other like-minded classmates and withdrew from formal education permanently.
Egon Schiele's themes: The Grotesque and the Sexual
Having left conventional domains behind, Schiele set up a studio in Vienna and began establishing himself in the art world, calling himself the Silver Klimt and making portraits of pubescent children. Having had a certain incestuous interest in his younger sister Gerti, Schiele’s obsession with young girls was probable. Egon Schiele's paintings
had an erotic edge, and he partly supported himself by supplying pornography to Viennese collectors. He did, however, make an impression upon the cultural intelligentsia of the capital and found supporters in Klimt, the art critic Arthur Roessler and a host of wealthy private patrons.
Egon Schiele's Arrest
In 1911, Schiele met 17-year-old Valerie (also known as Wally) who served as the painter’s mistress and muse for quite a while. It was around then that Schiele’s paranoia and persecution complex began to exhibit itself, and the couple decided to move to the town of Krumau, and then to Neulengbach.
This move was a precipitous one perhaps, as the villagers looked upon Schiele’s avant-garde lifestyle with contempt. His home became a magnet to the neighborhood’s delinquents, who saw him as a romantic figure – little more than a child himself. This generated a great deal of antagonism towards him, and in April of 1912, he was finally arrested for seduction and exposing minors to pornography. He spent less than a month in prison.
Egon Schiele's Life After Prison
His encounter with police authorities seems to have had little effect on Schiele’s career and in 1912 he was invited to exhibit at the Sonderbund in Cologne. His sense of entitlement and belief in his own talent was supreme. In 1915, he dismissed Valerie and married Edith, the daughter of a master locksmith. Less than a week after his wedding, he was drafted into the World War. But this development didn’t hinder the growth of his status, and in 1918 he was invited to participate in the Secession’s 49th exhibition. In total, Schiele had 50 works accepted into the exhibition and designed the poster himself.
Unfortunately, the Spanish flu epidemic in the autumn of 1918 struck Schiele and his wife. Edith, six months pregnant at the time, died from the flu. Schiele died three days later – but not before drawing a few final sketches of Edith, whose death he mourned deeply out of guilt as much as love.
Egon Schiele's Legacy
Since his death, Schiele’s work has been adopted into the art historical canon. The grotesque, erotic, and pornographic motifs of his work pioneered the exploration of the intensely risqué for other artists. Schiele’s work fetches a hefty price at auctions. Recently, Sotheby’s sold one of his rare cityscapes for a record $40.1 million. You can buy Egon Schiele’s artworks online
Egon Schiele's Major Exhibitions
1912 - Kunstlerhaus, Budapest
1913 - Gallerie Hans Goltz, Munich
1914 - Hamburger Kunstverein, Dresden
1915 - Galerie Guido Arnot, Vienna
1915 - Kunsthaus, Zurich
1916 - Gallerie Hans Goltz, Munich
1918 - Galerie Arnold, Dresden
2014 - Courtauld, London
Egon Schiele's Museums/Collections
Egon Schiele-Museum, Tulln, Austria
Art Institute of Chicago
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
Museum of Modern Art, New York
“Egon Schiele: The Beginning” by Christian Bauer
“Egon Schiele:1890-1918:Desire and Decay” by Wolfgang Georg Fischer
“Egon Schiele (Living Art)” by Isabel Kuhl
“Egon Schiele: Self Portraits and Portraits” by Agnes Husslein-Arco and Jane Kallir
“Egon Schiele” by Simon Wilson