Egon Schiele Quotes Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Learn more about artist Schiele with this selection of quotes from his lifetime, as well as a number of opinions on his achievements from a variety of other sources.

Your typical artist, Schiele was a true extrovert and innovator. His charismatic style meant others would listen, with his unique artistic direction also drawing in more admirers. He used a deep and expressive style within his work which reflected a complex character which used art as a means to make sense of the world. He showed artistic talent from a young age and concentrated on this whilst his other school experiences were something of a struggle. His own father became concerned about some of his behaviour and tried to push him away from pursuing a career as an artist, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Egon's success was perhaps from how he could draw on ideas from his complex mind and directly put them onto canvas or paper without applying traditional artistic techniques. This made his work original and modern, drawing both praise and criticism for the entire length of his short but influential career.

The quotes that we have managed to uncover from the artist's life give us interesting insights into different facets of his family and working life. For example, he would discuss his awkward relationship with his parents, as well as underlining the reasons for working in the specific genres that he did. Some of these comments can sit next to major paintings from his career, such as his explanations of his experiences in certain Austrian cities which would then appear within his paintings. There is so much more context to his artworks, and we can also better understand some of the models who appear within his portraits, and how strong their respective relationships with the artist would have been at the time. Despite living a relatively short life, you will discover that a serious amount of research that has been carried out by German and Austrian art historians has uncovered a good amount of information on his life from which we can learn so much.

Famous Quotes by Egon Schiele

All beautiful and noble qualities have been united in me... I shall be the fruit which will leave eternal vitality behind even after its decay. How great must be your joy, therefore, to have given birth to me.

Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.

At present, I am mainly observing the physical motion of mountains, water, trees and flowers. One is everywhere reminded of similar movements in the human body, of similar impulses of joy and suffering in plants.

Bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from the outside.

I am so rich that I must give myself away.

I do not deny that I have made drawings and watercolors of an erotic nature. But they are always works of art. Are there no artists who have done erotic pictures?

I don't know whether there is anyone else at all who remembers my noble father with such sadness.

I mainly observe the physical movement of mountains, water, trees, and flowers now. Everywhere one is reminded of similar motions inside the human body, similar stirrings of pleasure and pain in plants. Painting alone is not enough for me; I know that one can use colors to establish qualities. When one sees an autumnal tree in summer, it is an intense experience that involves one’s whole heart and being; and I should like to paint that melancholy.

In a letter in 1913, around the same time as Setting Sun.

In Vienna there are shadows. The city is black and everything is done by rote. I want to be alone. I want to go to the Bohemian Forest. May, June, July, August, September, October. I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds. I want to gaze with astonishment at moldy garden fences, I want to experience them all, to hear young birch plantations and trembling leaves, to see light and sun, enjoy wet, green-blue valleys in the evening, sense goldfish glinting, see white clouds building up in the sky, to speak to flowers. I want to look intently at grasses and pink people, old venerable churches, to know what little cathedrals say, to run without stopping along curving meadowy slopes across vast plains, kiss the earth and smell soft warm marshland flowers. And then I shall shape things so beautifully: fields of colour.

I was in love with everything - I wanted to look with love at the angry people so that their eyes would be forced to respond; and I wanted to bring gifts to the envious and tell them that I am worthless.

My mother is a very strange woman... She doesn't understand me in the least and doesn't love me much either. If she had either love or understanding she would be prepared to make sacrifices.

No erotic work of art is filth if it is artistically significant; it is only turned into filth through the beholder if he is filthy.

Quotes about Egon Schiele by Art Historians and Fellow Artists

Egon Schiele's career was short, intense, and amazingly productive. Before succumbing to influenza in 1918 at the age of twenty-eight, he created over three hundred oil paintings and several thousand works on paper. The human figure provided Schiele with his most potent subject matter for both paintings and drawings. The self-portraits of his large series of watercolors and paintings produced between 1910 and 1918—of which this one is a prime example—are searing, psychologically complex images.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA

Austrian painter Egon Schiele was an important figurative painter during the early years of the 20th century. He is best remembered for his elongated, distorted, and often sexually explicit portraits and self-portraits as well as his cityscapes of Vienna.


In a brief life cut short by the Spanish flu, Egon Schiele (1890–1918) managed to create an oeuvre that was both symptomatic of and groundbreaking for his times, making him one of the most formative and colorful figures of Viennese Modernism. His early knack for drawing led Schiele to the Vienna Academy as early as 1906, to a class led by Christian Griepenkerl, whose rigid structures did not speak to Schiele’s own ideas. With the formation of the Neukunstgruppe in the summer of 1909 and his sensational, partly-celebrated, partly-demonized appearances on the Viennese art scene, Schiele, convinced of the quality of his art and equipped with a sense for networking, became the spokesman for a generation of young ambitious artists in the years to come.

Leopold Museum

With his signature graphic style, embrace of figural distortion, and bold defiance of conventional norms of beauty, Egon Schiele was one of the leading figures of Austrian Expressionism. His portraits and self-portraits, searing explorations of their sitters' psyches and sexuality, are among the most remarkable of the 20th century. The artist, who was astoundingly prolific during his brief career, is famous not only for his psychologically and erotically charged works, but for his intriguing biography: his licentious lifestyle marked by scandal, notoriety, and a tragically early death of influenza at age twenty-eight, three days after the death of his pregnant wife, and at a time when he was on the verge of the commercial success that had eluded him for much of his career.

Some critics such as Jane Kallir have commented upon Schiele's work as being grotesque, erotic, pornographic, or disturbing, focusing on sex, death, and discovery. He focused on portraits of others as well as himself. In his later years, while he still worked often with nudes, they were done in a more realist fashion.