Egon Schiele

Left: Self-Portrait, Bust. 1912. Watercolor and pencil. Promised Gift to the National Gallery of Art.

Right: Portrait of Paris von Gütersloh. 1918. Oil. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


Drawing The Line

Realism and Abstraction in Expressionist Art

March 20, 2018 - July 6, 2018

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 11, 2017 - October 13, 2017

The Woman Question

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

March 14, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015

Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014

Modern Furies

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014

Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 2013

Face Time

Self and Identity in Expressionist Portraiture

April 9, 2013 - June 28, 2013

* Egon Schiele's Women

October 23, 2012 - December 28, 2012

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 17, 2012 - October 13, 2012

The Lady and the Tramp

Images of Women in Austrian and German Art

October 11, 2011 - December 30, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 5, 2011 - September 30, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 13, 2010 - October 1, 2010

* Egon Schiele as Printmaker

A Loan Exhibition Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

November 3, 2009 - January 23, 2010

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 24, 2008 - September 26, 2008

Transforming Reality

Pattern and Design in Modern and Self-Taught Art

January 15, 2008 - March 8, 2008

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 5, 2007 - September 28, 2007

Who Paid the Piper?

The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

March 8, 2007 - May 26, 2007

More Than Coffee was Served

Café Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Weimar Germany

September 19, 2006 - November 25, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 6, 2006 - September 8, 2006

* Coming of Age

Egon Schiele and the Modernist Culture of Youth

November 15, 2005 - January 7, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

June 7, 2005 - September 9, 2005

65th Anniversary Exhibition, Part I

Austrian and German Expressionism

October 28, 2004 - January 8, 2005

Sue Coe: Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round and Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 8, 2004 - October 16, 2004

Body and Soul

Expressionism and the Human Figure

October 7, 2003 - January 3, 2004

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 24, 2003 - September 12, 2003

In Search of the "Total Artwork"

Viennese Art and Design 1897–1932

April 8, 2003 - June 14, 2003

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 25, 2002 - September 20, 2002

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoscha

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

November 23, 2001 - January 5, 2002

The "Black-and-White" Show

Expressionist Graphics in Austria & Germany

September 20, 2001 - November 10, 2001

Recent Acquisitions (And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 26, 2001 - September 7, 2001

Art with an Agenda

Politics, Persuasion, Illustration and Decoration

April 10, 2001 - June 16, 2001

The Expressionist City

September 19, 2000 - November 4, 2000

Recent Acquisitions (And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 20, 2000 - September 8, 2000

From Façade to Psyche

Turn-of-the-Century Portraiture in Austria & Germany

March 28, 2000 - June 10, 2000

Saved From Europe

In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

November 6, 1999 - January 8, 2000

The Modern Child

(Images of Children in Twentieth-Century Art)

September 14, 1999 - November 6, 1999

Recent Acquisitions

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998

Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998

* Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Master Draughtsman

November 18, 1997 - January 3, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997

That Way Madness Lies

Expressionism and the Art of Gugging

January 14, 1997 - March 15, 1997

The Viennese Line

Art and Design Circa 1900

November 18, 1996 - January 4, 1997

Breaking All The Rules

Art in Transition

June 11, 1996 - September 6, 1996

The Fractured Form

Expressionism and the Human Body

November 15, 1995 - January 6, 1996

Recent Acquisitions

June 20, 1995 - September 8, 1995

On the Brink 1900-2000

The Turning of Two Centuries

March 28, 1995 - May 26, 1995

55th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Otto Kallir

June 7, 1994 - September 2, 1994

Symbolism and the Austrian Avant Garde

Klimt, Schiele and their Contemporaries

November 16, 1993 - January 8, 1994

Recent Acquisitions

June 8, 1993 - September 3, 1993

Naive Visions/Art Nouveau and Expressionism/Sue Coe: The Road to the White House

May 19, 1992 - September 4, 1992

Scandal, Outrage, Censorship

Controversy in Modern Art

January 21, 1992 - March 7, 1992

Viennese Graphic Design

From Secession to Expressionism

November 19, 1991 - January 11, 1992

The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991

Recent Acquisitions

Themes and Variations

May 14, 1991 - August 16, 1991

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, drawings and prints

January 22, 1991 - March 2, 1991

* Egon Schiele

November 13, 1990 - January 12, 1991

Recent Acquisitions

June 12, 1990 - August 31, 1990

The Galerie St. Etienne

A History in Documents and Pictures

June 20, 1989 - September 8, 1989

Fifty Years Galerie St. Etienne: An Overview

February 14, 1989 - April 1, 1989

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

June 14, 1988 - September 16, 1988

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

April 12, 1988 - May 27, 1988

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

April 7, 1987 - October 31, 1987

Oskar Kokoschka and His Time

November 25, 1986 - January 31, 1987

Viennese Design and Wiener Werkstätte

September 23, 1986 - November 8, 1986

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, Drawings and Prints

May 27, 1986 - September 13, 1986

Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 1986

Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985

European and American Landscapes

June 4, 1985 - September 13, 1985

Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985

Arnold Schoenberg's Vienna

November 13, 1984 - January 5, 1985

Early and Late

Drawings, Paintings & Prints from Academicism to Expressionism

June 1, 1983 - September 2, 1983

Aspects of Modernism

June 1, 1982 - September 3, 1982

The Human Perspective

Recent Acquisitions

March 16, 1982 - May 15, 1982

Austria's Expressionism

April 21, 1981 - May 30, 1981

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele

November 12, 1980 - December 27, 1980

* Egon Schiele

The Graphic Work

October 19, 1970

Austrian Art of the 20th Century

March 21, 1969

* Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition

October 31, 1968

The Wiener Werkstätte

November 16, 1966

* Egon Schiele

Watercolors and Drawings from American Collections

March 1, 1965

25th Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

October 17, 1964

Austrian Expressionists

January 6, 1964

Group Show

October 15, 1962

Paintings by Expressionists

January 27, 1962

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin

March 14, 1961

* Egon Schiele

November 15, 1960

Watercolors and Drawings by Austrian Artists from the Dial Collection

May 2, 1960

European and American Expressionists

September 22, 1959

* Egon Schiele

January 21, 1957

* Egon Schiele

March 12, 1954

Lovis Corinth, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

May 27, 1953

Small, Good Art Works from the 19th and 20th Centuries

January 27, 1949

* Twenty-Five Years Neue Galerie

Egon Schiele

October 20, 1948

* Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition

April 5, 1948

Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

September 15, 1945

* Egon Schiele

November 7, 1941

Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940

Anton Faistauer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

June 1, 1933

* Unknown Works by Egon Schiele

October 28, 1930

* Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition on the Tenth Anniversary of his Death

October 15, 1928

* Egon Schiele

November 20, 1923

EGON SCHIELE (1890-1918)

Master Draughtsman

November 18, 1997 - January 3, 1998




The Galerie St. Etienne's association with Egon Schiele dates back to 1918, when Otto Kallir (the gallery's founder) wrote the artist inquiring about having his portrait done. Kallir's father, a conservative Viennese attorney, refused to advance his son the funds to pay for the portrait, and there that particular dream ended. It may nonetheless be said with little exaggeration that Kallir spent the rest of his life making up for this disappointment. In 1923, five years after Schiele's death, Kallir opened his Neue Galerie in Vienna with the first posthumous retrospective of the artist's work. In 1928, he organized a double Schiele exhibition in conjunction with the Hagenbund, a noted Austrian artists' association. And in 1930, Kallir authored the first catalogue raisonné of the artist's paintings, presciently acting at a time when most of the oeuvre remained with the original owners and before it was dispersed or in some cases destroyed through the vicissitudes of World War II.


Kallir's devotion to Schiele was hardly curbed after the Nazi Anschluss forced him to flee Austria and resettle in New York, although Schiele was completely unknown here when the Galerie St. Etienne opened its doors in 1939. In the ensuing years, Kallir engineered another series of impressive firsts: first American Schiele exhibition (1941, at Galerie St. Etienne); first major acquisition by an American museum (1954, purchase of the Portrait of Paris von Gütersloh by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts); first American museum exhibition (1960, shown in five cities); first New York museum exhibition (1965, at the Guggenheim). Kallir also pursued his commitment to Schiele scholarship, publishing a revised edition of his catalogue raisonné of the paintings in 1966 and a catalogue raisonné of the prints in 1970. Following Kallir's death in 1978, the Galerie St. Etienne continued in his footsteps, producing the first comprehensive Schiele catalogue raisonné (the only one to include the artist's voluminous oeuvre of watercolors and drawings) in 1990 and curating another major museum show in 1994 (seen at the National Gallery of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the San Diego Museum of Art). Although we are not directly involved with the current presentation of Rudolf Leopold's Schiele collection at the Museum of Modern Art (through January 4, 1998) we felt that, given our history, it was appropriate to mark the occasion with an exhibition of our own.


The present moment also provides a good opportunity to take a look at the myths and realities of Egon Schiele in the light of our own approaching fin de siècle. Over a hundred years have passed since Schiele's birth; we have endured two cataclysmic world wars, a cold war and, in the arena of the fine arts, a procession of increasingly iconoclastic moves, ranging from Cubist distortion to formaldehyde-filled tanks containing real cows. It is hard to imagine, in this context, that any artist could still be considered shocking, much less one who worked at the very dawn of the modern era. And yet amazingly, it seems that Schiele does somehow retain a ready ability to offend. Artists from Picasso to Mapplethorpe created many more sexually explicit works than Schiele ever did, but it is he who is perceived as the paragon of the erotic and the taboo. This view of the artist may, however, tell us more about our own preconceptions and preoccupations than it does about Schiele himself.


Although all art history is to a degree subjective, Schiele has functioned as an especially strong magnet for the psychic projections of succeeding generations of viewers. Unlike artists such as Picasso, who for better or worse is firmly immured in the course of modernist history, Schiele remains a gadfly, a loner. The idiosyncratic nature of his work undermines attempts at a neutral, strictly formalist reading. More to the point, the intensely personal content of the work invites a reciprocal identification on the part of the viewer. It is perhaps not surprising that some admirers become obsessed with Schiele, at the extreme believing they are him. Even the most rational fans are inclined to feel that Schiele speaks to them in a very direct, intimate way. It is from these feelings that Schiele's status as a cult hero emerged and then evolved over the course of this century.


Schiele's first supporters were themselves something of a cult: a small group of male collectors who hid the "dirty" pictures from their wives and then, after Schiele's death, struggled to promote him as a serious artist on the basis of his tamer portraits and landscapes. This process was abetted by the fact that the majority of Schiele's output (including virtually all of his oils) depicts subject matter that could conceivably adorn Jesse Helms' living room. While Schiele's allegorical paintings (which he probably considered his most important artistic statements) never fared well with the public, his reputation as a poignant landscapist and brilliant observer of the human psyche was already well established in Vienna during the 1920s. This bias toward "safe" subjects--which was unquestionably required by the moral and political climate of the times--continued as Otto Kallir endeavored to introduce Schiele to America in the 1940s and '50s.


The conviction that Schiele needed protection from a Philistine public was shared by most of his early champions, and this belief was corroborated by the aura of martyrdom emanating from the artist's 1912 imprisonment on morals charges. In the eyes of a slightly later audience, that first generation of Schiele promoters could be (and in fact was) accused of censoring the artist's oeuvre. Thomas Messer actually admitted to censorship in the catalogue for the 1960 museum tour and was roundly reprimanded by the press. By 1960, a new, more liberal attitude toward sex and expressive freedom was in the offing. Younger viewers remade Schiele in their own image: as a James Dean figure, a hippie before his time. What had once been taboo was now hauled into the light and lauded as the "true" Schiele. Unfortunately, this approach was at heart no more honest or accurate than the one it supplanted. Explicit eroticism characterizes only a minor portion of the Schiele oeuvre, and Schiele himself was no James Dean, but a quintessentially bourgeois, if typically confused adolescent.


Since the 1960s, our attitude toward sex has been clouded by the scourge of AIDS, and as a result the ebullient honesty of Schiele's work is now seen to have a darker side. Other than this, the popular take on Schiele's vision has not fundamentally changed in the last three decades--if anything, the emphasis on the erotic has grown stronger. We live in an age of bizarre contradictions: on the one hand, right-wing moralizing is ascendant; on the other, incest victims broadcast their woes on national television. It is a time of prurient yet prudish voyeurism, and Schiele regrettably once again seems to fit right in. While grudgingly conceding that his oeuvre is broader, today's critics frequently contend that Schiele's sexual imagery is his most important contribution. Such willful disregard of an artist's true nature far exceeds the art historian's legitimate license for subjective reinterpretation.


Schiele's work does indeed have a voyeuristic aspect, but if this were its sole significance, his achievement would not have endured. Indeed, Schiele's nudes survive because they are infused with the artist's profound insight into the human condition, which animates the full range of his subjects. Moreover, it is this humanistic element that accounts for the nudes' continuing ability to shock. The Western artistic tradition of the female nude hinges on an essential dehumanization. Through such devices as symmetry, harmony and single-point perspective, the model is transformed (in the famous words of Kenneth Clark) from "naked" (i.e., fully sexed and hence potentially pornographic) to "nude" (an aestheticized object suitable for domestic contemplation). Starting early in life class, artists are encouraged to regard the female nude with the professional detachment of gynecologists, repressing or denying the emotions aroused by the naked and often highly sexual body before them. Schiele, however, was almost always keenly conscious that he was looking at a live, unclothed human being.


Schiele was also acutely aware of the looking process as such, alluding to it overtly in his series of Self-Seers paintings and obliquely in numerous pictorial references to seeing and blindness. Even more unusual, Schiele gave equal emphasis to the "seer" (himself) and the "seen" (his subjects). Particularly in his watercolors and drawings of 1910 to 1915, he recorded with brutal accuracy both his own reactions (which were frequently horrified or fearful) and those of his models (often tense or embarrassed and only occasionally seductive). In this, Schiele allowed the female nude more autonomy of spirit than almost any male artist in the Western canon.


The edginess of Schiele's nudes derives in part from the artist's humanistic orientation, but equally from his unorthodox aesthetic solutions. Schiele willfully violated all the European conventions pertinent to the nude. His poses were deliberately asymmetrical, with body parts lopped at disconcerting locations and angles. His contours were ragged, his lines jagged and fevered. Drapery was manipulated to segregate and segment isolated body parts, creating a cumulative effect more unnerving than would be total nudity. Color served a purely expressive function; it did not mimic nature and only in the artist's late works did it hew to the volumes of the three-dimensional body. Schiele's habit of signing as verticals drawings of recumbent figures (which derived from the elevated vantage point from which he worked) remains disturbing even to some of the artist's most ardent contemporary fans, who still prefer to take their women lying down.


Unorthodox pictorial solutions are hardly foreign to modern art: again, one might call forth the example of Picasso. However, Picasso's daring formal devices, though outrageous in their time, ultimately succeeded in re-objectifying the nude. His modernist idiom was in the end as aestheticizing and emotionally distant as had been the classical approach to the nude. Schiele, for his part, reverted in the last two years of his life to a more traditional realist approach that also yielded beautiful but relatively dispassionate nudes. It may well be that the combination of emotional intensity and aesthetic experimentation that characterizes Schiele's art from 1910 through 1914 or '15 is the exclusive purview of a very young man, one who was still coming to terms with his own gender and its implications in the larger world. Whatever its underlying motivation, no artist has ever duplicated Schiele's achievement of these seminal years.


At its very heart, Schiele's work is an examination of what it means to be human in the fullest sense. About looking and seeing, about inner isolation and the attempt to connect with others, and about the search for an ultimate meaning. Schiele told us as much in his allegories, with their ponderous titles and sometimes equally awkward compositions. Nevertheless, we are generally happier with the works that chart an ongoing process of exploration, and particularly with the light and lambent watercolors and drawings. While Schiele's nudes are extraordinary, so are his landscapes and portraits; in fact, Schiele could make even an assemblage of old crockery vibrate with intimations of decay and immortality (see checklist no. __). It is a sign of Schiele's greatness that he remains so alive to each succeeding generation of viewers, but we should not let our immediate concerns blind us to the full substance of his work. Schiele has his own reality--of time, place and artistic intent--and our appreciation will be deepened if we attempt to see him on his terms, rather than merely bending him to ours.