Still too racy! Advertisements by Egon Schiele censored.
According to a Vienna Tourist Board spokeswoman, Helena Hartlauer, Transport for London rejected the original images, citing trepidation about depicting genitals in public space.
It’s been nearly a century since the Austrian painter Egon Schiele died, but his art — charged with erotic energy and usually showing more than a little skin — still ruffles feathers.
- Gustave Klimt. Reclining Maenad, 1886–87. Black chalk, graphite, heightened with white. Albertina, Vienna.
- Egon Schiele. Reclining Female Nude. 1917. Charcoal, watercolour and gouache. Private Collection
In some ways, the no-nude attitudes abroad have been a blessing in disguise for Vienna’s campaign — since early November the Tourist Board has been highlighting images of the public ads with the hashtag #DerKunstihreFreiheit (#ToArtItsFreedom in English) on social media.
The hashtag comes from the slogan "To every age its art, to art its freedom," still visible in German on the facade of the Viennese Secession, an exhibition venue co-founded by Klimt in 1897 and still operating today as an autonomous artist-run institution. And the controversy certainly echoes discussions that took place in Schiele’s time. In fin-de-siècle Vienna, an era of dramatic shifts in both art and society, many considered the artist’s work to be pornographic. Schiele’s first broader acceptance didn’t come until early 1918 with a major exhibition in the Secession — later that year, the artist succumbed to Spanish flu at age 28.
Left: The Secession building at Vienna
The year 1918 marked the passing of four important protagonists of Viennese Modernism — Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner and Koloman Moser. The tourist organization WienTourismus has decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their deaths in 2018 with a themed year under the motto ‘Beauty and Abyss' to highlight the achievements of Viennese Modernism and their impact on the arts, literature, architecture, science and society."
The Leopold Museum houses not only the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection, but also the masterpieces from the period of ‘Vienna around 1900' by Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser.