Monday, March 29, 2010

Maybe she thinks the hat is too big or she's wondering what happened to her blouse. Hmmmm. Thought about posting this without any words at all, asking commenters to say whatever they'd like about this Egon Schiele work entitled, The Scornful Woman. But as I read more about him, he seemed so interesting I couldn't resist including a few words about him.

When the artist was still a teenager, his father died of syphilis. Schiele passed the entrance exam for the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and studied there for three years, although the school's conservative approach did not suit him. Eventually he approached Klimt who agreed to mentor him (although mentor was probably not used as a verb back then - I don't even like it as a verb today.) Mentor or not, he developed his own style of Expressionism and founded the New Art Group (Neukunstgruppe) and became part of the Viennese artistic world.

In 1911 he met Valerie (Wally) Neuzil. They decided to leave Vienna (see bio) and moved to his mother's hometown of Krumua in Bohemia. They lived together out of wedlock and he used her as well as other young women as models. Their bohemian lifestyle did not go over well (even in Bohemia), prompting a move to Neulengbach outside of Vienna. They continued to attract attention for their lifestyle, culminating in his arrest for allegedly seducing an underage girl.

While police were in his studio to arrest him, they seized scores of drawings they considered pornographic. Not one to waste time, he spent the days in jail creating a series of 12 sketches. Ultimately, he was only sentenced to three days for possessing "indecent" drawings. He continued with art in this vein; while many works share Klimt's decorative interests, Schiele seems to delve also into themes of sexuality and anguish. At left is Standing Woman in Red.

In 1914 he met Edith Harms, whose family lived near his studio. A year later, he decided to marry her, although evidently he expected to continue his relationship with Neuzil. She saw things differently and departed, never to see him again. In response to her departure, he created Death and the Maiden:

Art critics feel his work mellowed somewhat following his marriage. Not long after they married, WWI began. He made it through the war without fighting on the front; officers apparently noticed his talent and allowed him to guard prisoners, sketching while on duty.

Although he was successful in having his work included in a number of exhibitions, his life was cut short. In 1918 his wife contracted the Spanish flu and died. He died three days later at the age of 28. As I was posting this, my 9 year-old daughter came to peer over my shoulder. Looking at this Standing Man with Red Loincloth she said, "that's kind of scary." What do you think of his work? I think he's an amazing graphic artist. I do not have such a strong feeling for line; his use of line is so dramatic and intense, isn't it? While he seems mainly interested in the figure, there are occasional still lifes or landscapes, but even they are tortured. I will find one and add it.

Okay, here it is at left, a sunflower, dead of course, with all the angles of one of Schiele's human figures.


  1. It's an amazing line. Reminds me a bit of Paul Klee's in Two Men Meet, Each Believing the Other to Be of Higher Rank, but more severe.

  2. Thanks for posting the Klee - wonderful. Those knees. (P.S. How do you post a link within a comment box?)