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Egon Schiele (1890-1918) invested his art with an emotional intensity that, coupled with his radical formal innovations, characterized the Austrian contribution to Expressionism. During his short but highly prolific career which ended with his premature death, Schiele created more than three thousand works on paper and approximately three hundred paintings. Contemporary accounts of his personality, as well as his own letters, reveal a young man driven by an egotistical faith in the immortality of his talent, who nevertheless lamented his struggle for public recognition and the attendant financial rewards. Numerous self-portraits portray an uninhibited exhibitionist, but in reality Schiele was said to be shy and sensitive. His preoccupation with sexuality and existential explorations of the human condition convey him both as a product of his time and an artist who achieved aesthetic maturation when he was barely post-adolescent. The very aspects of Schiele's art that precluded its popularity during much of his lifetime--ugly distortion in place of accepted notions of beauty, unveiled eroticism, and personal angst--are those for which it is considered most compelling today.1 (read more...)
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