After Egon Schiele (1890-1918) freed himself from the shadow of his mentor and role model Gustav Klimt, he had just ten years to inscribe his signature style into the annals of modernity before the Spanish flu claimed his life. Being a child prodigy quite aware of his own genius and a passionate provocateur, this didn’t prove to be too big a challenge.
His haggard, overstretched figures, drastic depiction of sexuality, and self-portraits in which he staged himself with emaciated facial expressions bordering between brilliance and madness, had none of the decorative quality of Klimt’s hymns of love, sexuality, and yearning devotion. Instead, Schiele’s work spoke of a brutal honesty, one that would upset and irreversibly change Viennese society.
Although his works were later defamed as “degenerate” and for a time were almost forgotten altogether, they influenced generations of artists – from Günter Brus and Francis Bacon to Tracey Emin. Today, his then-misunderstood oeuvre continues to fetch exorbitant prices on the international art market.
Presented in a voluminous format that captures all of the intensity and emotional truth of his work, Egon Schiele. The Complete Paintings 1909-1918 features 221 paintings and 146 drawings that retrace the fertile last decade of Schiele’s life. With many pieces newly photographed for this edition, these works are paired with excerpts from his countless writings and poems, as well as essays introducing his life and oeuvre, to situate the Austrian master in the context of European Expressionism and trace his extraordinary legacy.