Egon Schiele & Oskar Kokoschka:
The expressionist Offspring of Gustav Klimt

Egon Schiele, the so-called 'Gothic master of the Vienna modernism'

In a way, this article is the second part of two that deal with the "grand three" artists of the Vienna modernism - Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. As I have outlined in the first part, there is little reason to group the three into a unit and ignore other modern painters from Vienna, but many people view them as a group with characteristic properties. Anyway, so here are short biographical sketches that outline the lives of Schiele and Kokoschka. Note that there are much better biographies available online (see at the bottom of the page).

Egon Schiele - A Short Biography

Egon Schiele was born in 1890 in the town of Tulln. His father was working for tha national railway. Against the will of his parents, Egon Schiele attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna - originally, he had applied for the University of Applied Art, but members of the admission committee had recognised his outstanding talent and persuaded him to switch to the academy. After three years of studying, he got into a severe argument with his professor, Christian Griepenkerl. Schiele had found a new style that was closely linked to the non-orthodox style of the Secession school of painting, but against all principles of the academy.

Together with his two friends Anton Faistauer and Franz Wiegele, Klimt founded an artist′s association called "Neukunstgruppe" in 1909. They had one well-regarded exhibition that very year, but remained in rather loose contact afterwards. In 1912, Schiele moved to Neulengbach in the Vienna Woods, where he started to work very productively until he was arrested for child abuse - some local children had entered his workshop and seen very graphic pictures of naked women.

After about three weeks in prison, Schiele was released again and moved back to Vienna. In 1914, he and his girlfriend/model Wally Neuziel split up and Schiele married Edith Harms. In 1918, only a few months after the death of Gustav Klimt, Schiele died from Spanish influenza. His work is best enjoyed at the Leopold Museum, which is home to the world′s largest collection of his work.

Oskar Kokoschka - A Short Biography

Of the three artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, the latter one seems very overrated to me. Nevertheless, he was at least the most durable one in terms of longevity. Oskar Kokoschka was born in the town of Pöchlarn in 1886. Like Klimt, he studied at the Kunstgewebeschule in Vienna. From 1907, he worked as a designer for the Wiener Werstätte (Vienna Workshop) and from 1910, he co-edited the art magazine "Sturm" in Berlin.

Kokoschka soon earned himself a reputation for being particularly revolutionary in his style, nourished by the support of Gustav Klimt. At a young age, his restlessness became apparent: From Berlin, he transferred to Dresden, where he held a professorship from 1919 to 1923; after that, he travelled across Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

He had a legendary affair with Alma Mahler-Werfel, one of the most famous - and herself rather legendary - women of Vienna′s modern age. Between 1934 and 1938, Oskar Kokoschka lived mostly in Prague. After WWII broke out, Kokoschka moved to London where he stayed until 1953, when he moved to Villeneuve in Switzerland. The same year, Kokoschka founded the "school of seeing" in Salzburg, an art summer school that is still held and that he is fondly reminded for in my hometown. Kokoschka spent many summers in Salzburg, painted and the older he got the more he wrote prose. Highly regarded in Austria after WWII, Oskar Kokoschka died in Villeneuve in 1980.

Back to "background"

Further Reading

Wikipedia on Egon Schiele

The Leopold Museum on Egon Schiele

Gallery with Works by Egon Schiele

Wikipedia on Oskar Kokoschka

Guggenheim on the Oskar Kokoschka Biography