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!