“His work is disturbing, grotesque, erotic and even pornographic!” This is the way in which some art critics have portrayed the oeuvre of Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918). His focus was mainly on portraits of himself and others as well as nudes. Renowned artist Gustav Klimt saw such promise in Schiele’s talents that he agreed to mentor young Egon. Klimt himself purchased Egon’s drawings and even exchanged some of his own works for his protege’s. Klimt sometimes arranged models for him and frequently introduced Egon to potential buyers. Although Schiele was greatly influenced by his mentor, as can be seen in many of his earlier works, he soon developed his own definitive style. Schiele is comparable to comedian Lenny Bruce in that he suffered at the hands of the law for his controversial work. Schiele was once found guilty of “exhibiting erotic drawings” and given prison time . During his time behind bars, Egon created a series of twelve paintings portraying the discomfort of incarceration. A judge once burned one of Egon’s paintings in court! Sadly, Egon and his young pregnant wife were among the victims of the horrific 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic (1918-1920) which killed as many as 100 million people worldwide. Egon was only 28 years old.
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