Leopold Museum, Wien

Leopold Museum, Vienna, Dec. 03, 2015While in Vienna last December, we visited the Leopold Museum, which contains a large collection of paintings of Gustav Klimt and even more of Egon Schiele. This was a fantastic opportunity, not only to discover many paintings I did not know, but also to set both painters within their time and within Vienna. And to realise the magnitude of the tragic destiny of Schiele, who died three days after his wife from the Spanish flu (and from living in a damp apartment) but also who was sent to jail a fewEgon Schiele, House with shingles, 1915 weeks in 1912 for pornography and abduction, who saw his father die early from syphilis, and who abandoned his devoted lover Wally to marry “Egon Schiele, self-portrait, 1909advantageously”… The exhibit also puts his life and work in perspective with the final years of imperial Vienna and of a doomed way of life.  (Klimt, who was Schiele’s mentor and most admirative of his talent, also died from the Spanish flu in early 1918. The museum contains some of his most famous “Golden phase” paintings as well as some less known countryside paintings that reminded me of Seurat.) Although this is a rather rhetorical interrogation, one wonders what could have happened to Schiele and his unique style, had he survived the Spanish flu. Maybe he would not have survived that long, given that his name was included into the “degenerate artists” list made twenty years later by the Nazis…

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