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Egon Schiele (June 12, 1890, Tulln an der Donau – October 31, 1918, Vienna) is an Austrian painter of Expressionism, the most beloved and talented student of Gustav Klimt.

Creative features of the artist Egon Schiele. Explicit erotic drawings and artworks by Schiele are difficult to call sensual and languid. Hands and feet in broken lines, masklike faces, withered naked bodies are a story of suffering and fragility of our world, rather than that of love and sensuality. Even Schiele’s landscapes with desolate streets and fields are ringing with loneliness and silence.

Famous paintings by Egon Schiele: Lovers, The Family, Houses with Laundry, Young Mother, Portrait of Wally, Self-portrait with Chinese Lantern and Fruits, and other works in self-portrait style.

If Schiele visited a therapist, his medical history could be much thicker than his biography and much heavier than his criminal case. The famous “Viennese pornographer” did not have time to become wise and reasonable, he was not given enough life to discover the depths of the mature themes and images, to outlast his outrageous sexuality, and focus on landscapes and other “adult” genres. Schiele only lived for 28 years and painted for 10 years, but he managed to become one of the brightest and boldest artists of the twentieth century. Despite all the diagnoses, that he could get from his compatriot Sigmund Freud.

For example, Paul Gauguin, a broker, had sent his quite academic landscape to the Paris Salon for the first time when he was 28, and only after ten years of work, he gained his own style. Vincent van Gogh, a failed art dealer and pastor, only goes to study in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts no sooner than at the age of 28, and abandons it shortly.

Too little joy

Egon loved art from his very childhood. The railway with its semaphores, complex mechanical nodes, smoke and power was his only model, plein air and inspiration. Egon and his two sisters were born and brought up in a small Austrian town of Tuln; their father was the head of a large local railway station. The town was even too small to have a school; it remains that small even now. The main merits of the town are its reference in the “Song of the Nibelungs” and the honorary title of the homeland of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele.

Young Egon took little interest in something but art. He had no friends, he was not into science or lessons; all educational institutions privately labelled him as a “problem” student and were not slack at sending his parents heaps of irate notes. He readily failed the lyceum examinations, repeated the grades, and remained impenetrably indifferent to everything but his favourite activity – painting. He loved his father very much, while he soured on his mother for all the time, because she had little mourning for her father and loved her son Egon in a completely wrong way. His father was infected with syphilis, which caused insanity. However, this fact only made Egon’s love intrusive and painful, far from weakening it. Already an adult and a successful man, he continued to return to those places that were dear to his father, travelled along his roads and nowhere had he found peace.

Too much talent

The artistic gift of Egon Schiele was as obvious as somewhat terrifying. At the Academy of Fine Arts, he became the youngest student – Shiele was only 16, when Professor Griepenkerl took him to his class (a year later, the same Professor would refuse 18-year-old Adolf Hitler to enter the Academy). After several years of training his technique, when the young artist brought his drawings to Gustav Klimt in his trembling hands, the master said only one thing, “They have talent. Too much talent.

The talent was the main moral guide and justification for Schiele. Biographers hold that he was put out from the Academy because of his attempts to learn the models as close as possible, ultimately close. “That's the only way I can really feel them,” Egon justified his numerous relationships to his teacher. To avoid scandal, they decided to get rid of the young genius: he was expelled after three years of education.

Having lost the money of his patron and the orders of the Secession craft guild, Schiele did not hesitate to use his rare gift to create sexually explicit pictures – a fairly profitable and popular style at that time. After some time, he could already afford to rent an apartment with an atelier and to work on the paintings for his first major exhibition organized by Klimt in 1909, in the Vienna Gallery. The defiantly talented 19-year-old “pornographer” fell into an enviable company: next to his works, there were the artworks of Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh and Edward Munch. By the beginning of the World War I, Schiele had gained fame, he annually participated in the exhibitions like Blue Rider, Sonderbund in Cologne, Viennese and International Secession. After the death of Klimt in 1918, Schiele became the main Austrian artist. He dreamt of his own school of painting and a new society of painters.

Too close women

Egon Schiele was a short, slim, nervous boyish-looking man with a deep pain in his eyes. He liked to take his own photos and had quite a serious approach to this activity. He put his hands out and pondered the poses. Modern authors of articles about Schiele often accuse him of narcissism and exhibitionism, but these labels easily vanish due to the dozens of complex self-portraits. Schiele tests himself rather than admires. In his self-portraits, the artist is a martyr, a freak, a poet, a hermit, a husband, a lover, but never a man of a handsome style.

Egon Schiele had a propensity for self-chastising and self-analysis; yet he had brought so many women to his atelier and his bed that no one even bothers to count them. His artist friends said that his house was always swarming with teenage girls sleeping, bathing, repairing clothes, hiding from parents who beat them, as well as posing for the next picture. However, two women became special for the artist of Expressionism: Wally Neuzil, his model and his first love, and Edith Harms, his wife and his last love.

Wally was 17 when she became the former model of Klimt and the beloved model of Schiele. For several years, she would pose for Egon in colourful stockings and roam through small towns after him, looking for a secluded place. Unfortunately, people did not take in their love in small towns, looked into their windows and repined at their immorality. In one of these towns, Schiele was arrested for seducing a minor and keeping indecent drawings; one of his works was solemnly burned. The facts show that he spent three days in prison instead of the planned twenty years.

When Schiele found Edith Harms, a daughter of a metalwork shop owner, he did nothing better than to hand Wally a farewell letter and offer her annual summer pleasure trips for two of them. Wally reciprocated him in the same style: she did nothing better than to go working as a Red Cross nurse and die there a few years later.

Egon spent the major part of his married life with Edith at war. Schiele was called in four days after the wedding, and discharged to his young wife a few months before his death. Edith died pregnant during a terrible epidemy of Spanish flu, which struck the whole Europe. Egon lived 3 days longer.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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