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Egon Schiele was one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
Despite his relatively short life he was still able to leave behind some highly influential Expressionist paintings which continue to be celebrated around the world in the present day.
Unique Painting Style
Few can match the unique qualities of Egon Schiele's portraits, though his career covered several other genres too. There are clear similarities between Schiele's portrait and landscape paintings and those of Gustav Klimt, though the former did not use quite the same extravagance of gold leaf paint as his master had.
Use of Colour
That said, colour was still an integral part of Schiele creating his modernist style, with his paintings loosely spread between art movements such as the Viennese Secession and the more general umbrellas of expressionism and symbolism. As you look through the catalogue of work found here, it is clear to see the convergence between the work of Schiele and fellow members of the Viennese Secession, though they also all still held a certain level of autonomy in their style.
Role within the Expressionist Movement
Schiele is seen by many as one of the earliest Expressionist artists, essentially taking some of the technical brilliance of master Klimt and appending his own imagination and deep thought. One can immediately pinpoint this artist as having a complex personality, something which went hand in hand with his career oeuvre. He concentrated most on portraits and self-portraits, many of which helped us to understand how the artist viewed himself as well as others.
His character was passioniate and unstable, something of a stereotype for famous artists, but entirely true in this case. Whilst examining his paintings below, you will note a clear stylistic consistency across the entire breadth of work, perhaps reminding us of how his short career did not give him enough time to experiment with new ideas and techniques.
Entry into the Landscape Genre
There were also a number of stunning landscape paintings as the artist looked to branch out from his highly successful portraits. They capture various locations there were relatively local to the artist and help to remind us of the beauty of the North European countryside. Four Trees remains the most famous of his work in this genre, but there were other notable pieces too, covering both rural and city scenes.
There are elements within this series of work which will remind some of other Expressive artists, plus a number of others who were in alternative contemporary movements. There is also a clear influence from Klimt within these paintings, with he himself having captured some stunning cityscapes across Austria within his own career. Whilst influences from others can be spotted in many of his paintings, Schiele was undeniably unique and original in his work and this helped him to become something of a cult figure within the art world.
That said, as good as the landscape paintings were, Schiele will always remain most famous for his figurative style which featured twisted body shapes that delivered maximum emotion from his models. He also would elongate parts of the body sometimes which will remind some of the work of El Greco, from many centuries before. Another signature element of his approach was the use of bold, dark lines that marked out form very aggressively. He would then often leave the rest of the portrait relatively simple, concentrating on facial expressions and carefully posed limbs.
He was almost like a photographer directing his model into customised positions which would draw out all manner of different images which others would not have been able to create. Having achieved so much, there will always still be an element of sadness that the artist did not live longer, as any extra years could have heralded all manner of new ideas from this highly imaginative and groundbreaking individual.
Cardinal and Nun (Caress)
Crouching Nude Girl
Boy in a Sailor Suit
Clothed Woman, Reclining
Crouching Nude in Shoes and Black Stockings, Back View
Dead City III
Female Lovers (1915)
Harbour of Trieste
House with Drying Laundry
Houses with Laundry (Seeburg)
Kneeling Girl, Resting on Both Elbows
Kneeling Semi Nude
Lovers Man and Woman
Meadow, Church and Houses
Mother and Child
Mother with Two Children
Nude Self Portrait
Nude with Blue Stockings, Bending Forward
On the Beach, Moonlight
Peasant Homestead in a Landscape
Portrait of Dr Hugo Koller
Portrait of Dr Viktor Ritter von Bauer
Portrait of Friederike Maria Beer
Portrait of the Artist's Wife
Reclining Woman with Green Stockings (Adele Harms)
Seated Woman (1913)
Self Portrait (1912)
Self Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant
Self Portrait with Hands on Chest
Small Tree in Late Autumn
The Artist's Sister, Melanie
The Holy Family
The Self Seers (Death and Man)
Two Little Girls
Village by the River
Woman in Black Stockings
Woman with Black Hat