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Egon Schiele (1890 - 1918)

Lifespan: 1890 - 1918

Related: Austria - erotic art - figurative art - Vienna Secession - expressionism - modern art - tortured artist

Years active: 1910s

Photograph of Egon Schiele; he and Oskar Kokoschka are generally categorized as Austrian expressionism. Typically for the era and the 'modern art' sensibility, tortured artist Egon Schiele celebrated the 'cult of ugliness and sordidness'. In addition to that, he was one of the first European artists to make the painting of female genitalia his specialty. He was in fact imprisoned for this.

In the study of Viennese modern art, two men stand out for their explorations of what has been labeled erotic art. While Egon Schiele painted to destroy the conservative Viennese facade of moral uprighteousness and expose the inner truth, Gustav Klimt indulged in this hypocritical pretense, manipulating it with sexual symbolism. Klimt's work shows strong influences from both the Art Nouveau and Symbolist styles, his sexual presentation of women coyly softened through the use of elaborate ornamentation. Schiele, on the other hand was a early Austrian Expressionist whose intentions to reveal the inner truth of his sitters was greatly influenced by the revolutionary psychoanalytic theories of Freud. --source

Sitting woman with legs drawn up (1917) - Egon Schiele (detail)


Egon Schiele (June 12, 1890 – October 31, 1918) was an Austrian painter, a protege of Gustav Klimt, and a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. Due to his premature death Schiele along with figures such as Vincent van Gogh has come to epitomise the popular image of the tortured artist. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele [Jul 2006]

Accusations of pornography

Young women in various stages of undressing or nude constituted one of Schiele's favorite subjects. His models were often pubescent girls of working-class background or even young prostitutes, since the artist, having been cut off from any financial support by his family, could not afford to hire professional models. During 1911–12 he executed some of his most provocative depictions of female nudes—often in contorted and unnatural poses: standing, sitting, reclining, or kneeling. Such drawings, exhibiting a bold expressiveness of body language and a masterful handling of the watercolor medium, were in great demand among Schiele's Viennese patrons. --http://www.moma.org/collection/printable_view.php?object_id=37567 [Jul 2006]

Accusations of pornography

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. The twenty-one days he had already spent in custody were taken into account, and he was sentenced to only three days' imprisonment. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egon_Schiele#Biography [Jul 2006]

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