Events | The Agony & The Ecstasy: Schiele and Klimt

The Agony & The Ecstasy – Schiele and Klimt reborn

  • Location: The Wilson, Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JT
  • Date: 28.01.19 | 13:00pm
  • Book Now: Please contact: Sue Pearce at The Wilson Gallery & Museum
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2018 commemorated the centenaries of two doyens of Modernism, in Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Both Viennese Secessionists prolific at the fin de siècle, artistically they couldn’t be more disparate. Klimt’s ethereal depictions of amorous liaisons are more akin to the English Decadent Movement as pioneered by J.A.M. Whistler and E.W. Godwin in their erotic languor and use of opulent materials. His interest in spirituality and mysticism chimed later with the pioneers of abstraction in the Bauhaus in Germany, founded the year after his death. Klimt’s father, a Viennese gold engraver, encouraged his son to explore further the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna and Venice, which accounts for his penchant for resplendent materials in his artworks. Perhaps inevitably, Klimt’s clients were the cultural elite active in the upper echelons of Austrian society at the turn of the century; Adolphe Stoclet among them. The artistic eroticism of the female form links both Klimt and Schiele as pioneering practitioners of this fervent period in art, yet the latter eschewed any sense of his guru’s glamour, in favour of a scratchy and nervous linearity of style which has found a Renaissance in Tracey Emin. The posthumously famous agent provocateur is renowned for restoring the tension between artist and model which the camera had dismantled half a century earlier. Schiele’s obsessions with voyeurism and scopophilia limited his audience to the esoteric – his inimitable etiolated and emaciated figures make us squirm even today in a society ostensibly uncensored – whilst making him a progenitor of Modern German Expressionism also.

This talk coincides with the Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna exhibition at the Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts up to 3 February 2019