Egon Schiele is an Austrian artist best known for his erotic paintings and drawings. His signature style often depicts figures with limbs spread and genitals exposed. His works, as well as his lifestyle, earned him infamy during his short but influential career. Behind his rousing creations, here are the following facts:
1. Schiele was born to a modest family in the “city of flowers”.
- His hometown was the small but spirited town of Blumenstadt. His father worked for the Austrian State Railways as a stationmaster. His mother was from Český Krumlov, now the main home of Schiele’s artworks.
- After his father died of syphilis, Egon lived under the care of his uncle. His guardian was unsupportive of his art career.
2. At 16, he was the youngest enrollee at Vienna’s Fine Arts Academy.
- After three years, Schiele and other students left the school. They rejected its conservative practices and refusal to embrace avant-garde.
- The defectors formed Neuekunstgruppe (New Art Group) and held exhibitions across the capital and Europe.
3. He was a mentee and friend to Gustav Klimt.
- Klimt inspired Schiele’s early style, as well as his interest in the female form. Both were notorious for their promiscuous lifestyle.
- Upon Klimt‘s advice, Schiele showcased four paintings at the 1909 Vienna International Exhibition. Other painters who joined the exhibit include Vincent Van Gogh and Oskar Kokoschka.
4. Schiele used children as nude models.
- Children, especially delinquents, frequented his studio, much to the outrage of the townspeople. He spent 24 days in jail for alleged statutory rape, before charges were dropped.
- He was charged instead with immorality for drawing “pornographic” images of his muse, Valerie “Wally” Neuzil. Police confiscated some of his drawings and one was burnt by a judge during trial.
5. Schiele guarded Russian prisoners of war during World War I.
- The military drafted him four days after his wedding to Edith Harms. Regardless, the Berlin Sezession and Die Aktion journal continued to showcase his works.
- Schiele saw little combat and was later transferred to the Army Musuem where he continued to paint.
6. He produced around 3,000 drawings in his short career and died at the young age of 28.
- His wife, six months pregnant, succumbed to the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.
- Schiele drew many pictures of his late wife before dying from the same disease three days later.
Egon Schiele’s raw and direct style redefined psychological and erotic themes in art. His works are a breakthrough in intimate imagery during the early 20th century.
To learn more about other inspiring artists, check out their interesting facts here.