Egon Schiele (German pronunciation: ˈʃiːlə, approximately SHEE-leh; June 12, 1890 – October 31, 1918) was an Austrian painter. A protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity, and the many self-portraits the artist produced. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism.
Schiele was born in Tulln on the Danube. His father, Adolph Schiele, worked for the Austrian State Railways as a station master; his mother, Marie Soukup(ová), was from Krumau, in Bohemia. As a child, he attended the school run by the Stift Klosterneuburg, where his arts teacher K.L. Strauch recognized and supported Schiele's artistic talent.Egon Schiele, Self-portrait, 1912
When Schiele was 1years old, his father died from syphilis, and he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Leopold Czihaczec, who became distressed by Schiele's lack of interest in academic studies, yet recognized his passion and talent for art. In 190Schiele applied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent, at the insistence of several faculty members, to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906. There, he studied painting and drawing, but was frustrated by the school's conservatism. Klimt and first exhibitions
In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt generously mentored younger artists, and he took a particular interest in the gifted 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 Werkstätte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. 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.Sitzender weiblicher Akt, 1914
Klimt invited Schiele to exhibit some of his work at the 190Vienna 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. Style
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. Controversy
In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Valerie (Wally) Neuzil, who lived with him in Vienna and served as model for some of his most striking paintings. Very little is known of her, except that she had previously modelled for Gustav Klimt and might have been one of his mistresses. Schiele and Wally wanted to escape what they perceived as the claustrophobic Viennese milieu, and went to the small town of Český Krumlov (Krumau) in southern Bohemia. Krumau was the birthplace of Schiele's mother; today it is the site of a museum dedicated to Schiele. Despite Schiele's family connections in Krumau, he and his lover were driven out of the town by the residents, who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle, including his alleged employment of the town's teenage girls as models.
Together they moved to Neulengbach, 3km west of Vienna, seeking inspirational surroundings and an inexpensive studio in which to work. As it was in the capital, Schiele's studio became a gathering place for Neulengbach's delinquent children. Schiele's way of life aroused much animosity among the town's inhabitants, and in April 191he was arrested for seducing a young girl below the age of consent.Die kleine Stadt II. View of Krumau an der Moldau, 1912-1913
When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. Schiele was imprisoned while awaiting his trial. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. In court, the judge burned one of the offending drawings over a candle flame. The twenty-one days he had already spent in custody were taken into account, and he was sentenced to only three days' imprisonment. While in prison, Schiele created a series of 1paintings depicting the difficulties and discomfort of being locked in a jail-cell.Tod und Mädchen (Death and the Maiden), 1915
In 1914, Schiele glimpsed the sisters Edith and Adéle Harms, who lived with their parents across the street from his studio in the Viennese suburb of Hietzing, 10Hietzinger Hauptstrasse. They were a middle-class family and Protestant by faith; their father was a master locksmith. In 1915, Schiele chose to marry the more socially acceptable Edith, but had apparently expected to maintain a relationship with Wally. However, when he explained the situation to Wally, she left him immediately and never saw him again. This abandonment led him to paint Death and the Maiden, where Wally's portrait is based on a previous pairing, but Schiele's is newly struck. (In February 1915, Schiele wrote a note to his friend Arthur Roessler stating: 'I intend to get married, advantageously. Not to Wally.') Despite some opposition from the Harms family, Schiele and Edith were married on 1June 1915, the anniversary of the wedding of Schiele's parents. WarHouse with Shingles, 1915
World War I now began to shape Schiele's life and work. Three days after his wedding, Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army where he was initially stationed in Prague. In the army, Schiele was treated well by officers who respected his artistic talent. He never saw any fighting at the front, and was able to continue painting and sketching while guarding Russian prisoners of war, and doing light guard duties. By 1917, he was back in Vienna, able to focus on his artistic career. His output was prolific, and his work reflected the maturity of an artist in full command of his talents. He was invited to participate in the Secession's 49th exhibition, held in Vienna in 1918. Schiele had fifty works accepted for this exhibition, and they were displayed in the main hall. He also designed a poster for the exhibition, which was reminiscent of the Last Supper, with a portrait of himself in the place of Christ. The show was a triumphant success, and as a result, prices for Schiele's drawings increased and he received many portrait commissions.Zwei Kleine Mädchen, 1911
During the same year, he also had successful shows in Zürich, Prague, and Dresden.
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.
In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu epidemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 2October. Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 2years old. During the three days between their deaths, Schiele drew a few sketches of Edith; these were his last works.
Schiele has been the subject of a biographical film, Excess & 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 is directed by Herbert Vesely and stars Mathieu Carriere as Egon Schiele with Jane Birkin as his early artistic muse and Christine Kaufman as his wife and Kristina Van Eyck as her sister. As well, his life was represented 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.
Schiele's life and work have also been the subject of essays, including a discussion of his works by Richard Avedon in an essay on portraiture entitled 'Borrowed Dogs.' Mario Vargas Llosa uses the work of Schiele as a conduit to seduce and morally exploit a main character in his 199novel The Notebooks of Don Rigoberto.Porträt von Wally (1912)
Portrait of Wally, a 191portrait, was purchased by Rudolf Leopold in 195and became part of the collection of the Leopold Museum when it was established by the Austrian government, purchasing more than 5,000 pieces that Leopold had owned. After a 1997-199exhibit of Schiele's work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the painting was seized by order of the New York County District Attorney and had been tied up in litigation by heirs of its former owner who claim that the painting was Nazi plunder and should be returned to them. The dispute was settled on July 20, 2010 and the picture subsequently purchased by the Leopold Museum for 1Million USD.
The Leopold Museum, Vienna houses perhaps Schiele's most important and complete collection of work, featuring over 200 exhibits. The museum sold one of these, 'Houses With Colorful Laundry (Suburb II)', for $40.million at Sotheby's in 2011. Other notable collections of Schiele's art include the Egon Schiele-Museum, Tulln and Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna.