Dreams of Desire 58 (Egon Schiele)

Egon Schiele-Woman in Black Stockings 1913
In 1907 the seventeen year old Egon Schiele met the artist who he idolised and would continue to venerate to his death, Gustav Klimt (see Dreams of Desire 57 (Gustav Klimt)Dreams of Desire 53 (Judith) and The Succubus). Klimt was known to be supportive of aspiring artists, however he recognised the talent inherent in Schiele and he took a particular interest in his protege’s career, generously buying and exchanging his own works with Schiele’s drawings, organising meetings with potential patrons and arranging models to sit for Schiele.

Although Klimt’s influence is evident in Schiele’s early work, he soon found his own distinctive style. The heavily decorative elements of Symbolism, Art Nouveau and Jugendstil are gone and in its place is raw, naked Expressionism. Schiele’s females nudes, often featured in provocative poses are emaciated and sickly looking with a distorted line that renders the figures close to grotesque. It is true that after his marriage in 1915 to Edith Hams that the models are more fully fleshed, however the doll-like appearance of these later studies makes them even more disconcerting.

In 1918 after a brief, tumultuous life which had included being imprisoned for exhibiting erotic drawings and considerable controversy for his use of teenage models (who tended to be juvenile delinquents) Schiele died in the Spanish Influenza outbreak that was gripping Vienna at that time, just three days after his pregnant wife Edith had died and only 8 months after the death of his mentor Gustav Klimt.


55 thoughts on “Dreams of Desire 58 (Egon Schiele)

  1. I was perusing some of his work after your mention in the Klimt post yesterday. Some of these show great skill while others seem a little crude. However, I am in no position to judge – art is so personal. And it doesn’t have to be ‘pretty’ to be beautiful. I am drawn to the one on the bottom left. I wonder what she’s looking at.

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    1. I am ambivalent about Schiele… I personally prefer Klimt, this is something uneasy about Schiele’s work. He does show great mastery of line in some drawings but other are crude but I think that is deliberate, done at speed to fully capture the essence of the person in the expression, hence expressionism.

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      1. Right. There is a method in figure drawing where you hastily sketch, trying to capture movement, not really trying to be precise. I can see why this work would make you uneasy. And what a short and tragic life.

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      2. I went for another look… you are right . There is no light in these at all. And Dreams of Desire? Yes, poor soul

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      1. Excellent question Miss Cranes…I have to sit on the fence on this one and say I would have to give judgement on a case by case basis. Beauty alone isn’t enough yet the ability to grab attention isn’t either. In the post on Klimt I refer to the discussion in Blue is the Warmest Colour regarding Schiele and Klimt, the positions of the characters are revealing, just as I think people’s responses are.

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      2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and often irrelevant when it comes to art, example Goya’s Black Paintings. Attention is a big umbrella, and if you can get your viewer to stand under that you’ve done your job, whether the work is considered, “beautiful” or ‘ugly”.

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      3. True and I can see how Klimt is decadent both in the Symbolist and Marxist senses, however I still find them sexy. Beauty can be irrelevant to art where beauty isn’t the attention, yet in some artwork beauty is the purpose. Hence the need for a case by case basis and accepting the artwork on its term. I missed these exchanges Miss Cranes.

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      4. Sad if beauty is the only intent in the creation of a piece of artwork. Many artists would be greatly disappointed to read that. Successful artists of any genre are notorious for weaving a canvas of many ideas and emotions. As with analyzing most things, big to small. Once the piece, regardless of the type of art it is, grabs the attention of the participant, then the brain will chip away at what is relevant to that individual.

        I’m indifferent to Klimt the market is saturated, it’s like a bird to something shiny. Just me, perhaps I missed the gold lamé boat.

        Thank you as always Mr. Cake, for an engaging exchange. ~ Miss Cranes

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      5. Well I think any great artist will try to capture the full range of emotions and experiences, beauty, terror, the sublime, boredom, ecstasy, passion etc. However they are many worthwhile minor artists whose range is more limited yet are still worth a look. You are funny, missed the gold lame boat. Thank you for the engaging exchange Miss Cranes you always make me think.

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  2. I never saw the link with Klimt although Egon was his acolyte had I not known, I’m not sure I would have been capable of observing the influence. That may be my error, as when I know, I can almost see it, but I think it’s my bias of knowing that makes it so. Whilst Klimt was about the tiny portion of truth (the face, say) then the ‘gilt’ of deception, and most are drawn to the latter, Egon was more invested in revealing the entireity, in that sense I suppose he went that necessary step further, not just a revealed angst in the (Jewish) face of the Woman in Gold but the entire body too and then another step, the emotion, another, the impression, another, the act. In the latter, he opens up everything, we don’t need imagination, the smut, the lines, the ruddy color, he has pictured ourselves as we inspect our nether emotions in the mirror. It is definitely his candor and repulsion (today’s favorite word no doubt) much like Walter Sickert (sp?) he isn’t afraid of ‘going there’ but he does it in a far more intimate way. Sickert really does appear to be the voyuyer who is watching whilst Egon is asking the model(s) and they obey, there is less smut more yield. For some they say who wants to see the labia of a pre-pubescent girl isn’t that paedophilia? Maybe it is? But the way in which it is rendered, judgement or purpose aside, is truly masterful. I would say he’s far more homosexual than paedopilic, he’s a definite penis man, but that said, he knows how to capture a girl/woman with equal if not more, ability, maybe because he’s less invested? I found them so beautiful – something in them spoke to me of how I felt as a child when we played doctors and nurses looking at each other, revealing, stepping back, growing up, experimenting, letting loose, it seemed very natural to me, reminding me of say, the unselfconscious portrayal of ballet dancers getting dressed that Degas was so good at doing (never found his bathing girls as realistic in terms of stance).

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    1. I like Schiele and he is a hugely influential Expressionist and erotic artist and quite brave in going so far but I will admit he makes me uneasy. With the possible exception of Bellmer I don’t know of another 20th Century artists who causes such uneasiness. He was more daring than Klimt certainly, however the competition between mentor and pupil (which I seemed to have perpetuated) didn’t exist in real life. They were very good friends.

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      1. Is that where his proclivities lay? I thought he just liked young girls, apart from self-portraits he rarely draw males unless there were no girls around, like his time in the army…though there is that whole Freudian argument about that.

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      1. I think all geniuses are a little uneasy. If you met them in a dark alley you’d be like, “OK, I get why people like you. But get the f*** away from me.” 🙂

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