1890 Tulln, Lower Austria to 1918 Vienna
Egon Schiele is renowned alongside Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka as one of the leading visual artists of the Viennese modern movement. Born in Tulln in 1890, Schiele soon developed his own inimitable language of forms while still a student at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. First rooted in art nouveau, he developed his art to combine ornamental structuring with a fractured line and an expressive use of colour.
Egon Schiele was born in 1890 into a simple family background in Tulln. Against the will of his parents, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1906, but left after only three years owing to violent disputes with his professor, Christian Griepenkerl, who opposed and rejected any innovation in art. Together with his friends and fellow artists, among them Anton Faistauer and Franz Wiegele, he founded the " Neukunstgruppe " (New Art Group) in 1909. In this same year, the group put on an exhibition in the Vienna Salon Pisko, but, after further exhibitions, remained in existence only as a loose association.
Schiele’s portraits, figural paintings and landscapes often orbit within the charged polarities of love and solitude, life and death. The motif of coming into being and dying away is a constantly recurring theme in his works, expressed most poignantly in the Sunflowers (1911).
Refulgent, vigorous flowers and petals are juxtaposed to dark, withered leaves, symbolising the cycle of life. In 1912, Schiele moved to Neulengbach, where he embarked on a very productive period; however, the so-called "Neulengbach affair" soon put a sudden stop to this.
Schiele was erroneously charged with kidnapping and sexual abuse. After numerous exhibitions and much travelling, the next hiatus in Schiele’s life took place in 1914. Schiele separated from his longstanding life companion Wally Neuziel to marry Edith Harms.
Thus, the picture Death and the Maiden of 1915, unmistakably a self-portrait of the artist, might be seen as a creative processing of his changed situation in life. The picture recalls Klimt’s famous Kiss (1907/8). However, Schiele’s fractured tones and harsh contours transport the motif into the aesthetic idiom of early expressionism.
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