Friday, 2 November 2007

Egon Schiele - negative spaces

Egon Schiele's Seated Male Nude 1910

I went to Vienna a few weeks ago, and it was the most amazing trip of my life. I'm sure to refer back to it a lot in future, but for the time being I want to talk about my Schiele experience.

The day we were setting off, a book on Viennese Art arrived, so I dove into it, reading about the Succession in relation to the politics of the time. The last artist covered in the book was Schiele. What I knew of him was from postcards I'd seen as a student of line drawings of women with red hair and legs akimbo.

So, while in Vienna, I visited the Leopold Museum, and got my socks knocked off. Nearly a whole floor is dedicated to Schiele, and it holds, amongst other treasures, his 'Seated Male Nude - a self portrait'. It's about 2 metres square, and it grabbed me from the first.

I'm not sure how long I stood in front of it, about 20 minutes or so? I kept discovering different things as walked closer to it, then stood back again over and over; the graphic outlines round the body, the over-painted chalky background, the hairs on the legs like twisted wires, the curious spaces formed by the area between the upraised arm and the head, the belly shape, the three red circles formed by the nipples and the single eye, the way he 'amputated' the limbs...... take a breath! ......the hair, the hip bones, the way he's broken it into composite shapes, and yet still manages to create a solid form, which made me think of Picasso's cubist figures.

I bought a print of it which is now on my living room wall. In fact, when I emerged from the museum and met up with my husband again, I showed him the dozen or so postcards I'd picked up, and asked him if he could guess which one I'd also bought a print of. Amongst them were landscapes, portraits, abstracts, and interiors. He picked the seated male nude straight off, he knows me so well.


Kelly said...

I think it looks like an ant at first glance, but I guess that's why you are the artist and not me. I did think it was very funny when after sitting chatting for 2 hours while the children played and it was hanging over our heads, you said "do you think it's ok to leave this up when children visit?"
Kelly x

Yellow said...

I do want to hang more of the art I love round the house. The thing is, there are many works I love, but which I couldn't live with. At least I have a studio I can hand pictures in, where my kids are forbidden from treading. Don't worry, they're not restricted because of inappropriate images, but because I don't want kid's fingers and wet oil paints don't mix well.

D Personeus said...

Egon's work was been a favorite of mine since my years studying illustration at FIT in NYC. I have recently found myself drawn to his work again as I pick up my own paint brush and look for inspiration again after 25+ year in the business world. Glad to find someone else who has been equally as moved by his work.

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