“And all the instabilities do shiver and run…” *
Brutal. Raw. Tenuous. Fragile. Such were the times into which Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918) was cast.
The significant hallmarks of his age are precisely the hallmarks of his controversial body of work. The gross instabilities of his time, his culture, his future, flowed through him, through his creative artistic filter, as through a sponge. And thus filtered, through Schiele’s brush, flowed creations that reflect in their imagery and in their style of painting, all of these powerful, debilitating and overwhelming forces — including the lusty, explosive explorations of a young man with an insatiable passion to live.
The outcome of the World War I years was the collapse and perhaps perversion of cultural institutions and mores, of personal hopes and expectations, of lives. From this milieu, we view the ordinary through Schiele’s bold vision, oddly transfixed, askew and raw. Within Schiele’s oeuvre are powerful moments. A painted burst of red flowers, or a rendering of four trees set against an inflamed sky, reflect as much a glimpse of beauty and profound lust for life, as they reflect the fragility of hope, the unlikelihood of a life fulfilled. Likewise, his self-portraits and portraits are of unsettling intensity and distortion. Landscapes quiver with complexities of color and form. And his searing, widely known works which explore human sexuality with an unfettered and unapologetic eye, continue to engage and enthrall. Over the top? Depends on whom you ask. Powerful art? Yes!
Egon Schiele’s life was cut short at age twenty-eight by the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.
(*Jules Cavanaugh, I Require Art™)