Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | December 10, 2009 5:00 PM | comments
Filed in: Entertainment Tags: Egon Schiele, erotic gay art, Erotographica, nude art
The amazing and wonderful Egon Schiele!
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Nice. All I know about expressionism I learned in the museum that houses much of the blue rider movement in Munich (don't remember the name), but it's interesting stuff. All the wavy lines....
Hmmm. I was in Vienna a month ago and passed up going through the Leopold Museum's Shiele exhibit [they claim to have the world's largest collection] because it was promoted with some of the more grotesque examples of his art...like mental illness on canvas. Though not as obviously unwell as Munch also currently on display.
I much preferred the variety of styles Gustav Klimt painted in, on display at the Leopold and Vienna's Belvedere [where his glamorous "Judith" looks out at us in lush ecstasy]. Unfortunately, he's best known for "The Kiss" [Belvedere] used ubiquitously as a symbol for romantic love. It is visually beautiful [who can resist gold leaf?] but, in person, reinforced my persistent, previously unconscious discomfort with representations: the young woman being kissed seems, at best, indifferent to it, and one could imagine that she's being assaulted by the much larger man virtually engulfing her.
Both Shiele and Klimt were obviously obsessed with women, many of the images included in the slide show above are almost identical to ones by Klimt in pencil exhibited at Tate Liverpool last year of reclining, sometimes masturbating, women for which he was, unsurprisingly, condemned as a pornographer after their 1910 exhibit. [Even the Tate 98-yrs. later apparently dimly banned anyone under 18 from the gallery area where the mild drawings were dimly displayed!]
Whether or not he was later expressing some kind of revenge [and/or phallic obsession] in the way many of his paintings seem to some to be contained within the shape of an erect penis, it was not the first time he’d met with Viennese prudery. He was, in fact, at 26, forced to obscure the penis of Theseus [killing the Minotaur] in the poster for the first Secessionist exhibit in 1898. Some say printers scratched it out…it looks as if it’s covered by steel wool.
Klimt created two later versions, one in which the penis is hidden behind a thing black sapling [also on the cover of the first edition of “Ver Sacrum,” the Secessionist’s journal/magazine], and another behind a white sapling. One has to look in one of the Leopold display cases to see a version of the original Full Theseus.
The only [apparent?] same sex image I encountered in Klimt's displayed work was in the giant photograph of his giant masterpiece "Medicine" at the Leopold. The allegorical painting was one of three commissioned for the ceiling of the University of Vienna but rejected as being, varyingly, too fantastic, too confusing, too obscene, and Klimt kept them, paying back his commission, and a University curator who defended him sacked. “Medicine” seems to include a male couple embracing in its center right [or, at least, one man grieving over the illness/death of another].
Even the black and white photograph is stunning [the oft-seen brilliant red and gold "Hygieia" is but a detail from the full painting] and should not be missed on any trip to Vienna. [While typical wall posters in the Leopold's gift shop averaged $12.00, the same-sized one of "Medicine" was $65.00. Are you listening, Santa?]. The actual painting, as well as the two others, was destroyed by a fire set in May 1945 at Schloss Immendorf by the retreating Nazis to prevent the castle from being taken by the advancing Allies.
Cool, I have book of photos by Gugliemo Plushow which I love. Maybe you could put up some of that work sometime. I really enjoy your contributions about art and advertising.