Schiele, Egon


Egon Schiele

Tulln, Austria, 1890

Vienna, 1918


He began his training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna; however, his meeting with Gustav Klimt, the idol of the Viennese art scene at the time, had a major influence on the development and momentum of his artistic career. In 1909, his work was shown at the Internationale Kunstschau, which allowed him to meet Josef Hoffmann and thus become associated with the Wiener Werkstätte. That same year, the young artist left the Academy and founded the Neukunstgruppe, which exhibited at the Salon Pisko and whose manifesto was written by Schiele himself. In his work there was soon a clear shift towards expressionism. His figures show the painter’s great sensitivity in capturing and depicting a grim body language. This, enhanced by a masterful control of composition and color, would seem to be aimed at showing the weakness and drives of characters whose bodies are as present as their subjectivity is patent but unattainable.

In 1911, Schiele met one of Klimt’s models, seventeen-year-old Valerie Neuzil, who was to become his romantic partner and model. The two moved to his mother’s hometown of Krumau, where the painter portrayed urban landscapes and some of its inhabitants. Probably because of criticism of his “life in sin”, Schiele and Valerie Neuzil moved to Neulenbach, near Vienna. In 1912 the scandal broke out: Schiele was condemned for not keeping erotic nudes in a sufficiently safe place, and several of these drawings were taken away from him. Back in Vienna, several of his works were included in the legendary international Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. Thanks to Klimt, he obtained many commissions, which gave him a place on the art scene. In 1913, Schiele began to collaborate in the magazine Die Aktion, a literary and left-wing political publication that promoted expressionism. In 1915, the artist married Edith Harms, a member of a wealthy middle-class family. Called up that year, he oversaw escorting Russian prisoners of war, whom he portrayed. In 1917 he was transferred to Vienna, where he continued to paint and there were plans to found an art gallery which, in the same spirit as the Sezession, was supposed put bring the arts to their feet after the war, but the project was never carried out.

1918 began with great personal and material successes. Schiele participated in the Sezession exhibition, as well as in other international exhibitions held in Zurich, Prague and Dresden. At the end of October of the same year, his wife, six months pregnant, died because of the Spanish flu epidemic ravaging the city; Schiele died only three days later.

Noemi de Haro