Happy Birthday Egon Schiele!


Today is the birthday of Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele (b. 1890 – 1918).  Schiele was a protégé of Gustave Klimt and is also associated with the art nouveau movement.  His expressive use of line indicates his substantial  talent.   Shieles’ figures are often twisted and distorted.  They are sinewy, sexually posed and very often disturbing. 


Schiele attended the Vienna School of Art and Crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule) where Gustave Klimt had also studied.  After a year, and at his relative’s insistence, he then moved onto the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste  where  he studied drawing and painting.


Gustave Klimt took a lot of interest in Schiele, mentoring him  and even buying some of his drawings.  Klimt appreciated Schiele’s talent and  took the young artist under his wing,, securing him patrons and introducing him to the arts and crafts workshop (Wiener Werkstätte,) who were connected with the Secession


In 1909, under Klimt guidance, Schiele exhibited at the Vienna Kunstschau.  There he was to encounter the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch who also exhibited.  Schiele’s work explored the human form and sexuality, which is often very explicit in some of his work.  The artist himself was often the centre of controversy over his involvement with his young models.  His favorite model was 17-year-old Valerie Neuzil (known as Wally) and she features heavily in his work.


Schiele’s led a very chequered life – and  was even imprisoned briefly for using underage models.  In time he married a ‘suitable’ and more socially acceptable bride than poor Wally.  In World War 1 he was stationed in Prague were he drew and painted whilst guarding the Russian prisoners of war.   In 1918 he took part in the Secession’s 49th exhibition in Vienna, where he also designed a poster for the event, as well as exhibiting 50 works.  The success of this show was to elevate Schiele’s work, increasing its  popularity and its price.  Schiele died a tragic death three days after his pregnant wife in the autumn of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.  He was only 28 years old.


More detail of Schiele’s life can be found here

All images from http://www.egon-schiele.net/ with thanks!

12 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Egon Schiele!

  1. I remember when I found my book on Schiele, Lynda. I paged through the pictures of his work for days. I so enjoyed looking at his line work even as twisted as it seems, there was something that really resonated with me while I was learning to draw. Thank you for another excellent post on art!

    1. Yes, I feel exactly the same Leslie. When I was at Uni I used to buy one Taschen book a week to study (I could just about affford them). The array of artists was bewildering to me (apart from the very well known ones like Picasso, Monet, Constable etc ) so I just went by what I was drawn to. Schiele was the very first artist I bought, then Munch, then Van Gogh etc. It didn’t take me long to realise that Expressionism was the art that I could relate to the most! Schiele makes those lines seem so effortless, I often wonder what sort of art he would have gone on to produce if he hadn’t have died so tragically at such an early age. Glad you enjoy him as much as I do Leslie 🙂

  2. Those pictures are almost cartoon like in their style. It makes them seem quite modern, not unlike what you might find in a high brow gentlemen’s magazine. I’d imagine they are highly valued today?

  3. What was this artists faith in mankind like. lol
    You certainly find artists that break the mold.
    But this particular artwork, not a huge fan. lol
    His style doesn’t really resonate with me

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