Schiele, Egon

Schiele, Egon Biography

Austrian Expressionist painter, draftsman, and printmaker noted for the eroticism of his figurative works.

Schiele's work helped define an Austrian version of expressionism, an art movement that had recently gained hold in Germany. Expressionism advocated distortion or exaggeration to express a personal or emotional vision. Schiele's interest in expressionism was inspired by the work of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, French artist Paul Gauguin, and the German expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), with whom he exhibited briefly in 1912.

Born in Tullin, near Vienna, Egon Schiele was accepted to Vienna's Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 16. In 1907 Egon Schiele became a close friend and admirer of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Egon Schiele's early work emulated Klimt's elegantly ornamental art nouveau style. Although this influence remained evident in the decorative patterns with which Egon Schiele depicted clothing and landscapes, Schiele soon developed his own more expressive style of distorted outlines. In 1909 Schiele led a small group of students who sought creative freedom from the Academy and formed the Neukunstgruppe (New Art Group). That same year Egon Schiele showed several oil paintings at Vienna's International Art Exhibition of 1909, at the age of just 19.

In 1911 Egon Schiele moved to the town of Krumau where he painted self-portraits, nudes, and landscapes. Local residents objected to the sexuality of his drawings, and after only three months he moved to Neulengbach, near Vienna. Schiele's disturbingly erotic works and use of very young girls for models led to his arrest and brief imprisonment in 1912 for corruption of minors.

Important works include The Self Seer (1911), The Cardinal and Nun (1912), and Embrace (1917). His landscapes exhibit the same febrile quality of colour and line.

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