ARTISTS SERIES: Wacky, Weird, Wild, or Just Plain Savvy? – Egon Schiele

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Episode #4

[Dr. DJ continues this 10-part series. In Episode #11. Dr. DJ will explain

who he believes should be the receiver of the WWW Artist Award (and Why, of course!)]

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Egon Schiele – 1890 – 1918

Egon Schiele (pronounced Shee-luh) was an Austrian painter, a protégé of Gustav Klimt, and a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. He was also definitely a notable exponent of expressionism.

In the early 1900’s, particularly in Germany, the world was in tumult. It not only birthed the first World War but, with it, came the movement, known as expressionism. It was a response to widespread anxiety and strict behavioral standards.  It emerged simultaneously in various cities across Germany as a response to a widespread anxiety about humanity’s increasingly troubled relationship with the world along with feelings of losing authenticity and spirituality.

In part a rebellion against Impressionism and rather academic art, Expressionism was inspired most heavily by Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, encouraging the distortion of form and the usage if strong colors to depict anxieties and yearnings. The basic phase of the Expressionism was from about 1905 to around 1920 and spread throughout Europe. Later, it would form the roots of Abstract Expressionism, and its influence would be felt throughout the remainder of the century in German art AND in America with artists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock.

Schiele’s body of work is quite intense and he produced a large number of self-portraits unlike his mentor, Gustav Klimt, who never painted his own likeness. The contorted body shapes that characterize his paintings and drawings make Schiele the most notable exponent of Expressionism.

12 Things you may not have known about Egon Scheile

1. Egon Schiele was born in Tulln on the Danube.

2. Egon’s father, Adolf, worked for the Austrian State Railways as a station master; his mother, Marie, was from Krumau, in Bohemia.

3. When Egon Schiele was 14 or 15 years old (facts seem to vary on exact age), his father died from syphilis, and he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Leopold Czihaczec, who encouraged Egon’s passion and talent for art. Egon never got over his father’s death.

4. In 1906 Schiele applied at Kunstgewerbeschule (the School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied.

5. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent, at the insistence of several faculty members, to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906. There, he studied painting and drawing, but was frustrated by the school’s conservatism.

6. Records show that Adolf Hitler was rejected by the Akademie in 1907; this has led to a misconception that Schiele and Hitler knew each other in Vienna. They did not.

7.  During the war, Schiele worked on his art while guarding Russian prisoners.
Schiele’s never saw any front-line fighting in the army. He was a prison guard of Russian POWs. Scheile painted and sketched while guarding Russian prisoners of war and performing other guard duties.

8. Scheil was arrested for seducing a minor, but was only convicted of exhibiting his erotic works in front of minors.

9. The judge punished him by burning up one of his sketches with a candle in the courtroom.

10. Egon Schiele died at only 28, just three days after his pregnant wife, in 1918 – both from the Spanish flu.

11. During the three days between their deaths, Schiele drew his final work – a few sketches of Edith.

12. Schiele executed some 3,000 drawings throughout his life, much like Klimt.

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