Egon Schiele

1890 Tulln - 1918 Vienna

Egon Schiele, the third child of the stationmaster Adolf Schiele and his wife Marie, was born in Tulln on 12 June 1890. When his father died in 1905, Egon’s uncle Leopold Czihazek became his guardian. Schiele's urge to create art intensely arose at an early age. He thus dropped out of secondary school and started studying in the class of Christian Griepenkerl at the Academy in 1906. Schiele was at odds with his extremely reactionary teacher and sought out his role model Gustav Klimt. It was the start of a lifelong friendship founded on mutual esteem. Schiele first gained a foothold in the art world when he exhibited at the International Kunstschau of 1909. Disillusioned with the Academy, he left and founded the “Neukunstgruppe” (New Art Group) with Anton Faistauer, Franz Wiegele and others. The group presented their work at the Salon Pisko. In 1911 Schiele turned his back on begrudging Vienna and moved to a studio in Krumau (Ceský Krumlov) with his model Wally Neuziel. This prolific phase in his work came to an abrupt end due to local protests about his nudes showing young girls. In April 1912, in another small town, Neulengbach, the authorities took Schiele into custody for the “dissemination of immoral drawings” and he was charged with three days of imprisonment for his careless exposure of nude drawings in the presence of minors. Yet, Schiele’s fame was spreading, especially in Germany, where he joined the Sema, an artist association in Munich, of which the members also included Kubin and Klee. Three of Schiele’s works were shown at the international Sonderbund exhibition in Cologne. However, the artist’s precarious financial situation did not improve until Gustav Klimt introduced him to the Lederer family, who were major collectors. In 1914 he contributed to many exhibitions, not only in Germany but also in Rome, Paris and Brussels. In 1915 Schiele married Edith Harms and had to report for military service just a few days thereafter. A few months later, he was transferred to a desk job, which gave him the chance to resume his art. In the spring of 1918, Egon Schiele and the Neukunstgruppe exhibited at the Vienna Secession with Schiele’s works showcased in the main room. Just half a year after his first major artistic and financial success, Egon Schiele died of the Spanish flu on 31 October 1918. His wife Edith had succumbed to the same disease only three days earlier.