Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Artist of the month; Egon Schiele, again


April is almost dead now, but there is still just enough time to salute an old friend before we turn the corner to May. I've liked Schiele's work ever since I first encountered it in the early 1990's, and he was already featured as an artist of the month, back when I started this blog. I'm adding him again for the simple reason that I've been looking at his work a lot recently, and pondering upon its nature. I've always been a big fan of figurative art, and I feel like I may return to this avenue of personal exploration once we have moved (after I cross the event horizon of which I spoke in my last post).

I don't know when I first saw his characteristic, erotically charged work, but it will have been in the same time frame, and social context as Gustav Klimt. For what must have been extremely shocking when they were first painted, Schiele's work (and Klimt's also) has taken on the kind of socially acceptability that only time can confer. I guess the more you see something, the 'less' it becomes. Its a bit like rewatching the film 'Alien'. I was about ten when I first saw it and scared me half to death. When I watch it now, its almost with misty eyed nostalgia and the fearful tension which was once the film's underlying power, has long since evaporated.

To a not so insignificant degree, the eroticism of Schiele's work remains, but it is almost whimsical, clouded as it has become by the years of ever increasing sexual exploitation in the arts and media.When I look at these images, I doubt very much that I see what Schiele's contemporaries saw. Actually I don't know what they saw as the public keeps its opinions largely to itself and what we read today in art history lessons, is the accumulative criticism of the media. I see figurative art of the most appealling and beguiling kind. Certainly there is sexual tension involved, but the value of the images is in their descriptive nature, their exploration of colour and form and the informal character of their appearance. Many of Schiele´s paintings look more like playful telephone doodles than works of art. This lends them something which is lacking from other 18th century artist's work, even Klimt's. It keeps them fresh.


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