Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude
23 October 2014 – 18 January 2015
A display of the Austrian Expressionist's depictions of the naked figure, which are among his most significant contributions to the development of modern art.
Egon Schiele was no stranger to controversy. His nudes – raw, fleshy and unflinching – were criticised for being disturbing and grotesque; too erotic, too explicit, too radical. In fact, so ‘offensive’ were these works, they earned Schiele a two month prison sentence, and at the trial the judge is alleged to have burned some of the drawings with a candle flame.
This is the first UK show dedicated solely to the artist, and it is long overdue. Bringing together some of his most extraordinary watercolours and drawings, it reveals the profound influence he had on modern depictions of the human figure. But it also portrays an audacious artist who was unapologetic for the vision of his art. His work alludes to a future that includes Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Marlene Dumas.
Arriving in Vienna in 1906 aged just 15, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt and implored him to become his mentor. After an unremarkable start, his breakthrough came in 1910. The nudes he produced in this seminal year were complex, expressive and emotionally-charged; totally unlike anything that had been seen before. The display begins at this incredible moment in Schiele’s career and continues up to his untimely death at 28 years old.
Key to the exhibition is the inclusion of Schiele’s nude self-portraits, demonstrating his ability to turn his gaze inward and question his own physical and psychological make-up.