The Agony & the Ecstasy: Schiele and Klimt
- Location: Electric House, 191 Portobello Road, London, W11 2ED
- Date: 17.09.19 | 7pm
- Soho House members only: Please note that unless a guest of Nick, this is a members event
- Book Now: Please email Bianca de Carvalho: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 and 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 is based partly on the Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna exhibition at the Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts which ended on 3rd February 2019