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The Standing Male Nude is a self-portrait watercolour on paper produced in 1914 by Austrian artist Egon Schiele. It is one of many highly polished and expressive self portraits that he created across his short but distinguished career.
Inspired and mentored by Gustav Klimt, Schiele found his passion in art following his move to Vienna and many of his early pieces clearly display traces of Klimt's style and influence. By the time of painting Standing Male Nude, Schiele had fully developed his own style. Using the Expressionist style, Schiele has defied conventional standards for nude paintings by eliminating perfection from his creation in the distortion of the pose. This defiance eventually earned Schiele a short stay in prison for the corruption of minors due to the sexual nature of some of his 'riskier' artworks. Whilst by modern standards, these works may seem sedate, his traditionalist peers were outraged at his 'matter-of-fact' nudes and the 'lewd' positions the subjects where in.
Working swiftly and without hesitation, Schiele would not waste time by correcting his work and would instead discard his current piece and begin anew. The Standing Male Nude finds beauty in Schieles use of sharp angles alongside flowing 'curvaceous' strokes, blended seamlessly to draw the viewers eye, and in the bold use of only a few key colours on an otherwise stark background. The image speaks of Schiele as a person, his loneliness and isolation depicted in the emptiness that surrounds his portrait and his seeming narcissism in his obsession with self-portrait with Standing Male Nude being one of hundreds Schiele produced. The blank background is a common feature of nearly all of Schiele's portrait works although his art is most easily distinguished by the way he almost leaves his paintings in a 'sketched' state with bold outlines and very little fine detail.
The majority of this artist's watercolours would also heavily rely on his talents as a draughtsman, which were undeniably impressive. It was his drawings that initially earned him praise at school, and one of the few disciplines of any nature that he excelled in. Even here within this self portrait, titled The Standing Male Nude, he would clearly have started first with line in pen and ink in order to produce the bulk of the work, before then adding watercolours within that. The lines remain strong and bold, and this was an approach typical of the artist's style. In recent years there has been an increased acceptance of his qualities in sketching, and exhibitions of his work have better reflected his contributions to this important artistic discipline.