By Alessandra Comini
The short life and startling works of Expressionist artist Egon Schiele (1890–1918), are examined within the cultural context of early 20th-century Vienna.
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Egon Schiele was a meteor that flashed across the galaxy of Viennese art at the beginning of the last century. Although he lived only twenty-eight years—dying quite suddenly of influenza in 1918 just as World War I came to an end—he left a stunning pictorial oeuvre. Schiele's obsession with sexuality, his own and that of others, made him at once a voyeur and a participant in that sexual imperative which Freud was concurrently plumbing with such unsettling results. The disturbing revelations of Schiele's unmasking portraiture and of the new science of psychology disclosed a collective cultural anxiety during the last years of the crumbling Austrian empire. Schiele was disturbingly dualistic: his provocative explorations of erotica with their startlingly modern sensibilities do not prepare the viewer for the tenderness revealed in his lyrical landscapes and mostly unpeopled town scenes. These emit a haunting loneliness and are related to an obsession with pathos expressed in the artist’s melancholy allegories and existential portraits.
Distinguished Professor of Art History Emerita at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Alessandra Comini was awarded Austria’s Grand Medal of Honor for her books on Viennese artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Her Egon Schiele’s Portraits was nominated for the National Book Award and her The Changing Image of Beethoven is used in classrooms around the country. Both books in new editions are now available from Sunstone Press as well as The Fantastic Art of Vienna, Gustav Klimt, and Schiele in Prison. Comini’s travels, recorded in her memoir, In Passionate Pursuit, also from Sunstone Press, extend from Europe to Antarctica and are reflected in her Megan Crespi Mystery Series: The Munch Murders, Killing for Klimt, The Schiele Slaughters, The Kokoschka Capers, The Kollwitz Calamities, and The Kandinsky Conundrum, all published by Sunstone Press.
“The best book on the Viennese wunderkind so far and maybe forever.” —John Canaday, The New York Times
“Alessandra Comini brings a keen eye and passionate spirit of engagement to the art of Egon Schiele. Her original research and scholarly insights illuminate the work and life of this quintessential Austrian artist.” —Renée Price, Director, Neue Galerie New York, Museum for German and Austrian Art
On the Cover: Death and Maiden (Self-Portrait with Walli), 1915 K. 207, oil on canvas, Courtesy Österreichische Galerie, Vienna.
8 1/2 X 11 Illustrated, Color