The Art & The Body – The Enigma of Egon Schiele

Bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from the outside. Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.


Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter known for his provocative and expressive style, particularly in portraiture and figurative works. He was born on June 12, 1890, in Tulln an der Donau, Austria. Schiele died tragically and young at the age of 28 on October 31, 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic.

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”

Egon Schiele

Schiele was a protege of Gustav Klimt, another renowned Austrian painter associated with the Art Nouveau movement. However he developed his own distinct style that often featured distorted and elongated figures, bold lines, and intense colors. His works often conveyed a sense of emotional turmoil and psychological depth.

Egon Schiele’s Self-Portrait with Physalis (1912). More: Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

During his short but prolific career, Schiele produced numerous self-portraits and portraits of those around him, including his friends, lovers, and fellow artists. His exploration of the human form often bordered on the erotic and confrontational, leading to controversy and even legal troubles.

emotional power and innovative style

In addition to his figurative works, Schiele also created landscapes and still lifes, though these are less well-known compared to his portraits. He experimented with various media, including oil paints, watercolors, and drawings, and his works are characterized by their rawness and immediacy.

“To restrict the artist is a crime. It is to murder germinating life.”

Egon Schiele

Despite his brief career, Schiele made a significant impact on the art world and is considered one of the leading figures of Austrian Expressionism. His influence can be seen in the work of subsequent generations of artists, and his paintings continue to be celebrated for their emotional power and innovative style.

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