Leopold Museum, aka Egon Schiele Museum in Vienna, throws you head first into Vienna 1900’s haunted soul. I believe Schiele artwork is key to grasping Fin-de-Siècle Wien. Schiele was not an eye pleaser in the first place but a radical Expressionist. I only understood that after visiting Leopold Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Schiele art. Find out what to expect.
Egon Schiele In Brief
Egon Schiele Museum. Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter and poet, born in Lower Austria in 1890. He studied at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Art but soon rejected classic styles. Schiele was introverted and wanted to express inner lives rather than idealising beings and objects:
Egon Schiele Museum. In his early years Schiele was inspired by Gustav Klimt. They shared a love for lines, flat images, and portraying women.
In contrast to Klimt, Schiele’s later works were much more psychological and provocative. He often overstepped the mark of social acceptance at the time. His use of very young models was shocking, as were his ‘pornographic’ paintings. At 22 years of age, Schiele was charged with seduction and abduction of a young girl. Though the charges were subsequently dropped the temporary imprisonment left a deep mark on the artist.
Egon Schiele died from the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 at the age of 28, having served in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War I. His wife Edith had died just three days earlier.
Schiele And Vienna 1900
Egon Schiele Museum. The Schiele collection forms part of Leopold Museum’s permanent exhibition Vienna 1900. It is the most provocative of all but vital to understanding what was going on in Vienna during that time.
Schiele’s portraits express the raw sides of life, death, rebirth, eroticism, sex and motherhood. For Schiele, the radical clashes and shifts of Fin-de-Siècle Wien were deeply unsettling but also an opportunity to challenge society. He drew mostly nude men and women who were staring at the viewers, displaying distorted and strangely discoloured body parts. Schiele caused vivid outrage with his more than explicit nude females.
During the same period, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, developed his ‘libido’ theory. Women were fighting for personal freedom and emancipation. The bourgeoisie wanted to gain more power in politics, economics and society while the Habsburg Emperors were keen to preserve the status quo.
At the Fin de Siècle Vienna was torn between conservative beliefs and modernist ideas. Do visit Vienna 1900 with its Gustav Klimt artwork (photo), and works by Kokoschka, Hoffmann and Moser. Their ideas for the new century were largely different and will help you put Schiele into perspective with other artists of that time.
Best Schiele Artwork at Leopold Museum
Egon Schiele Museum. The Schiele works below are among my personal highlights at the museum. Look at the faces – they express uncertainty, uneasiness, distrust, fear, shame, despair. The landscape painting (Setting Sun) is wistful. Those works reflect that deep impact the shift towards modernism had in Vienna. Btw, there are many more nudes in explicit actions at the exhibition than frankly fit my personal tastes…
You can admire a few dozen Schieles, along with amazing vistas of Museumsquartier, Ringstrasse and Hofburg from some large windows. Not all of the 42 paintings and 187 drawings are exhibited at all times. The Schiele quotes in between the artwork add lots of life.
I took the photographs while visiting a regular exhibition. (People loved taking pictures of the artwork.) The different angles the pictures are taken from are due to different background lightings.
Self Portrait With Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912
Edith In A Striped Dress, Sitting, 1915
Setting Sun, 1913
Mother and Child, 1912
Nude Boy in Gray Shirt (self portrait), 1910
Caress (Cardinal and Nun), 1912
The Lyricist, 1911
Self Portrait With Lowered Head, 1912
Kneeling Woman in a Gray Dress (Wally Neuzil), 1912
Art Collector Rudolf Leopold
Egon Schiele Museum. I find Rudolf Leopold’s story as intriguing as Egon Schiele’s. It was Leopold who catapulted Schiele to international fame.
Leopold (1925 to 2010) was training to be an eye doctor when he discovered his passion for art. At his graduation his mother offered him a VW Beetle. He refused and instead bought his first Schiele (‘The Hermits’). He was one of very few collectors to recognise the artist’s exceptional talent at that time. Over the following decades he collected hundreds of Schiele works and other artwork of key 20th century artists. Rudolf Leopold and his wife Elisabeth (photo) campaigned tirelessly to get Schiele’s genius recognised in the international art world – with success. In 1994, his 5,200 strong collection was gathered into the Leopold Museum – Private Foundation.
Egon Schiele Museum: Practical Info
Location: Leopold Museum is part of Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1, 1060 Vienna
Opening Hours: daily, except Tuesdays: 10am to 6pm; Thursdays: 10am to 9pm; closed on 24th December;
Entrance Tickets: Leopold Museum (inc Vienna 1900 and Egon Schiele exhibitions)
Leopold Museum (19th and 20th century art) and Museum of Art History (classical art);
How to Get There: tramway 1 and 2 to Burgring; metro U2 to Museumsquartier;
Egon Schiele Art Center in Cesky Krumlov: Egon Schiele’s mother was born in this quaint Renaissance town in Bohemia. Schiele himself visited the town regularly during his childhood and took up residence there in 1913. Take one of the daily shuttle buses from Vienna to Cesky Krumlov to visit the Art Center.