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Startseite / Alte Master / S / Egon Schiele / Biografie
Biografie von Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele Biografie


1890-1918


Austrian Secession/Expressionist Painter


Egon Schiele (June 12, 1890 - October 31, 1918) was an Austrian painter, a protege of Gustav Klimt, and a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. Due to the highly-charged nature of his drawings and paintings and his premature death, Schiele has come to epitomise the popular image of the tortured artist.
Egon Schiele was born in Tulln on the Danube. His father, Adolf, worked for the Austrian State Railways as a station master; his mother, Marie, was from Krumau, in Bohemia. As a child, he attended the school run by the Stift Klosterneuburg, where his arts teacher K.L. Strauch recognized and supported Schiele's artistic talent.
When Schiele was 15 years old, his father died of syphilis, and he became a ward of his uncle (his mother's brother), who became distressed by Schiele's lack of interest in academic studies, yet recognised his passion and talent for art. In 1906 Schiele applied at Kunstgewerbeschule (the School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent, at the insistence of several faculty members, to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906. There, he studied painting and drawing, but was frustrated by the school’s conservatism. As records show that Adolf Hitler was rejected by the Akademie in 1907 this has led to a misconception that Schiele and Hitler knew each other in Vienna.
In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt encouraged younger artists, and he took an interest in the gifted young Schiele, buying his drawings, or offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons.
He also introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkstätte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. In 1908 Schiele had his first exhibition, in Klosterneuburg. Schiele left the Academy in 1909, after completing his third year, and founded the Neukunstgruppe ("New Art Group") with other dissatisfied students.
Klimt invited Schiele to exhibit some of his work at the 1909 Vienna Kunstschau, where he encountered the work of Edvard Munch, Jan Toorop, and Vincent van Gogh among others. Once free of the constraints of the Academy's conventions, Schiele began to explore, not only the human form, but also human sexuality. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works appalling.
In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Valerie (Wally) Neuzil, who lived with him in Vienna and served as model for some of his best paintings. Very little is known of her, except that she had previously modelled for Gustav Klimt, and might have been one of his mistresses. Schiele and Wally wanted to escape what they perceived as the claustrophobic Viennese milieu, and went to the small town of Český Krumlov (Krumau) in southern Bohemia (the place where Schiele's mother was born, and nowadays the site of a museum dedicated to Schiele). Despite Schiele's family connections in Krumau, he and his lover were driven out of the town by the residents, who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle, including his alleged employment of the town's teenage girls as models.
Together they moved to Neulengbach, 35 km west of Vienna, seeking inspirational surroundings and an inexpensive studio in which to work. As it was in the capital, Schiele's studio became a gathering place for Neulengbach's delinquent children. Schiele's way of life aroused much animosity among the town's inhabitants, and in April 1912 he was arrested for seducing a young girl below the age of consent.
When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. Schiele was imprisoned while awaiting his trial. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. The twenty-one days he had already spent in custody were taken into account, and he was sentenced to only three days' imprisonment.
In 1915, Schiele met sisters Edith and Adéle Harms, who lived with their parents across the street from his studio. They were a middle-class family; their father was a master locksmith. By April, Schiele and Edith were engaged, and the faithful Vallie was coldly dismissed by Schiele. Against her family's wishes, Schiele and Edith were married in June 1915.
In spite of World War I, Schiele was able to pursue his artistic endeavors. His output was prolific, and his work reflected the maturity of an artist in full command of his talents. He was invited to participate in the Secession's 49th exhibition, held in Vienna in 1918. Schiele had fifty works accepted into the exhibition, and they were displayed in the main hall. He also designed a poster for the exhibition, which was reminiscent of the Last Supper, with a portrait of himself in the place of Christ. The show was a triumphant success, and as a result, prices for Schiele's drawings increased and he received many portrait commissions. During the same year, he also had successful shows in Zürich, Prague, and Dresden.
Schiele participated in numerous group exhibitions, including those of the Neukunstgruppe in Prague in 1910 and Budapest in 1912; the Sonderbund, Cologne, in 1912; and several Secession shows in Munich, beginning in 1911. In 1913, the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, mounted Schiele's first solo show. A solo exhibition of his work took place in Paris in 1914.
In the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu epidemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October. Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old. During the three days between their deaths, Schiele drew a few sketches of Edith; these were his last works.