egon schiele self portrait
Julia Jordan based her 1999 play Tatjana in Color, which was produced off-Broadway at The Culture Project during the fall of 2003, on a fictionalization of the relationship between Shiele and the 12-year-old Tatjana von Mossig, the Neulengbach girl whose morals he was ultimately convicted of corrupting for allowing her to see his paintings.  The opening chapters of Guy Mankowski’s 2017 novel An Honest Deceit were cited to be heavily influenced by Schiele’s paintings; in particular his portrayals of his sister, Gertrude. 
Portrait of Wally, a 1912 portrait, was purchased by Rudolf Leopold in 1954 and became part of the collection of the Leopold Museum when it was established by the Austrian government, purchasing more than 5,000 pieces that Leopold had owned. After a 1997–1998 exhibit of Schiele’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the painting was seized by order of the New York County District Attorney  and had been tied up in litigation by heirs of its former owner who claim that the painting was Nazi plunder and should be returned to them. 
Austrian Draftsman, Painter, and Printmaker
With his signature graphic style, embrace of figural distortion, and bold defiance of conventional norms of beauty, Egon Schiele was one of the leading figures of Austrian Expressionism. His portraits and self-portraits, searing explorations of their sitters’ psyches and sexuality, are among the most remarkable of the 20 th century. The artist, who was astoundingly prolific during his brief career, is famous not only for his psychologically and erotically charged works, but for his intriguing biography: his licentious lifestyle marked by scandal, notoriety, and a tragically early death of influenza at age twenty-eight, three days after the death of his pregnant wife, and at a time when he was on the verge of the commercial success that had eluded him for much of his career.
Schiele was closely in touch with modern developments in psychoanalysis and the deep, conflicted problems in the people he met and drew. His paintings emanate a curiosity and fascination, and this collection shows very clearly his exploration into the human emotions, the complexities and divisions of human personalities, the distance sometimes, and then the closeness, of human relations and possibility of compassion.
Although Schiele famously disliked the traditional syllabus of the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, and embraced the avant-garde and his own ideas rather than follow a more conventional career path as a portrait artist, he nevertheless painted over 100 brilliant portraits before his premature death from influenza aged 28. His life – a rebellious, sometimes chaotic affair that led him from brothels to country escapes to even jail at one point – clearly introduced him to some fascinating characters whose portraits illustrate this new book devoted to such portraiture. Provocative in his art and life Schiele served a prison sentence for having sex with an under-age girl. He employed teenage girls to model for him, which attracted considerable disapproval in the town of Neulengbach, 35 km west of Vienna where he was living with his lover. The judge, in passing a sentence there in 1912 on the charges of “exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children”, dropped those of seduction and abduction, but actually burned one of the 100 or so “pornographic” works over a candle to illustrate that Schiele’s flouting of convention in this way was unacceptable and illegal.
Reputation As an Artist
Ranked among the top 20th century portrait artists, Schiele’s art is timelessly contemporary. Although he only lived for 28 years, he was hugely prolific and painted more than 300 paintings and thousands of works on paper. The very things which made his art unpopular in his early years – the ugly distorted bodies, personal angst and unveiled eroticism – are precisely the qualities that have ensured his art endures. He saw the human figure or spirit as an animal rather than a moral human, and insisted on absolute freedom for creative individuality and self-determination.
It’s been ninety-nine-years since his death and 20th-century artist Egon Schiele is still as radical and prolific as he ever was. Now regarded as a leading figure in Austrian Expressionism, during the course of his short life (1890-1918), the artist caused uproar with his unflinching and extraordinary style. His work is known for its anguished eroticism, explicit sexuality and nudity, and exaggerated and distorted bodies depicted through angular, contorted sketches and heavy lines. Eschewing conventional ideals of Western beauty for a raw, crude figural representation, the bare, sexual directness of his work was embodied by an essential graphic use of colour, line and contour.
Schiele’s portraits primarily presented his female sitters in the nude, and from revealing and explicit angles. He was a keen collector of Asian art – as was Klimt – and was said to have owned one of the best collections of Japanese erotica in Vienna. Parallels can be drawn between Schiele’s explicit depiction of female genitalia and the tradition of Japanese woodblock prints, such as Shunga. For example, the black and red genitalia that appear in his pictures of 1911, whose colours contrast with the pale skin of his female models, are a prominent motif of Japanese art. However, Schiele’s refusal to cast these women as passive resisted the problematic of the male gaze within so many other depictions of the female nude in Western art. The sitters star back at the spectator, their body language worldly, expressive, and defiant.
In the present watercolour his emaciated body, which stands out against the neutral background, is captured from a very low viewpoint in order to accentuate his skinniness, and the expressive gesture of his face recalls the exaggerated facial expressions sculpted by his compatriot the sculptor Franz Xavier Messerschmidt (1736–1783). As in most of his portraits, he combines facial gestures — in principle the best ally of expressiveness — with extremely elongated, bony hands.
El Archivo Fotográfico del Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza ofrece el servicio de venta y alquiler de material fotográfico de todas las obras de su Colección Permanente, así como de las obras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen- Bornemisza en depósito en el Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza.
I love death and I love life
Egon Schiele, Self Portrait in Crouching Position 1913. Photo: Moderna Museet / Stockholm