Saturday, January 8, 2011

SOME SKETCHES A LA EGON SCHIELE

While continuing to read and learn more about the life and artwork of Egon Schiele, some watercolors in the book catch my eye and I try to copy it - the linework more than the color since I'm just sketching these.  The use of line - when to go heavy, when to go light, escapes me and I tend to be heavy-handed with my lines right now. 



So...just a couple of sketches done while on a break from reading the book.


Egon's mother thought he was a ne'er-do-well when he wouldn't get a "real" job and help out the family after his father died (of syphilis) when Egon was 14.  His uncle took him under his wing, but after 3 years at the Art Academy and skipping classes more than attending, he decided to enroll Egon in military school.  So Egon ran, travelling with 2 friends to his mother's city of birth - but he still begged for money from his uncle.  (Even though he had a few patrons, they were not very wealthy and were turned off his work when he began doing more nudes in garish colors.)  




Egon first used a gynecologist's patients (with the doctor's permission) as nude models!!!  Can you imagine that???  Apparently, these women were poor and this was part of the payment - to model for Egon.  When that stopped, he payed a pittance or candy to the local children to model for him.  These children were street urchins or had families who didn't care where they were so being inside a warm studio with a nice man was a treat for them and there is nothing in the paintings to suggest anything untoward happened with the kids.  Just models, to Egon, who needed cheap models (which is why he did so many self-portraits, I imagine).

In all of his drawings, he takes a figure and reimagines it - you can see in this stylized self-portrait (my copy of his original) how very skinny he was.  Remember, he was a young boy, really, not even 20 yet.  All bones and angles and knobby bits are displayed.  But clever placement of parts within the picture plane without any background, make the edges of the paper part of the composition.  He often put almost all of the body in, cutting off the top of the head intentionally - or did figure work with no indication of a face - just a blur of paint.  His focus was the shapes of the body, not the individual.  It was almost as if he didn't see his models as people but just shapes to draw and paint.

For now, Egon has left Vienna and his uncle has stopped supporting him.  He is tiring of his friends and cannot earn a living from his artwork.  He is 20.  Although he has been in a few good gallery/salon shows in Vienna, he has yet to find any truly wealthy patrons (such as those who are supporting Gustav Klimt at this time).  

Here are a couple of paintings by Schiele of children.  There is such a delicacy and haunting quality to them...


When we think of Schiele's work, we think of the many nudes he did, some almost pornographic.  But he did some remarkably subtle, gentle, ethereal paintings (nude or clothed) of women and children and some self-portraits that curators are still trying to decipher.  He also did many landscapes in watercolor and oil.


So...will Egon return to Vienna and his mother, hat in hand, and become a model citizen? I think not...

8 comments:

Tim Robinson said...

Nice studies. Schiele is one of my favorites!

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Tim. I am enjoying the book and recommend it.

Ann Buckner said...

I enjoyed your line drawings too and your commentary on Schiele

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Ann.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi! We seem to have mutual blogs that we visit because I keep seeing your avatar. So, I thought I'd visit. I have grown to like Egon Schiele. It's fun to see you writing about his work. Wonderful drawings.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Peggy. I see your name and icon on many blogs, too :) We both must have good taste.

MB Shaw said...

I just had my 'yearly checkup' and can hardly imagine being the subject of a sketch, lol. But I loved hearing the story and thing your sketches are quite successful.

RH Carpenter said...

Mary Beth, I think that doctor was a bit iffy about ethics!! And the women were probably poor and uneducated and thought if a doctor told you to do it, you had to do it. Strange, indeed.