samedi 7 novembre 2009

Egon Schiele in prison

I Feel Not Punished But Purified!
“From August 1911 to May 1912 the Austrian village of Neulengbach, some twenty miles from Vienna, played reluctant host to the controversial young Expressionist artist Egon Schiele. The peaceful seclusion of the country town led Schiele into a period of lyrical artistic production and caused him to write his uncle:
“I have come to Neulengbach in order to remain here forever. My intentions are to bring great works to completion, and for this I must work in peace—that was impossible in Vienna. Up to now I have given, and now, because of this, I am so rich that I must give myself away.” (1 September 1911, letter to his Uncle.)
Schiele's enthusiasm for the town was not mirrored by the town's enthusiasm for Schiele. The twenty-one-year-old artist's reputation for “porno­graphic” drawings, the presence of his pretty model Vally, and his invita­tions to the village children to come and pose for him in the isolated little garden house he had rented on the outskirts of town, aroused first the indig­nation and then the hostility of the country folk, and at last legal steps were taken to rid Neulengbach of its undesirable inhabitant.”
The Door into the Open!
“Thus it was that on 13 April 1912 one of the happiest and most creative periods of Schiele's life was brought to a sudden and brutal end. On that day he was arrested by two village constables who also confiscated his drawings and then locked him up without bond in a basement cell of the Neulengbach district courthouse. The charges against him were “immorality” and “seduction of a minor”, but the prisoner apparently was not informed of them for more than a week. The first charge alleged that by careless or wilful display of erotic drawings in his studio, while entertaining and sketching child models, Schiele had contributed to their corrup­tion. This accusation came as no surprise to his friends in Vienna, who had often warned the artist to be more judicious about the sort of drawings he left lying around when children came to pose. The second charge could plausibly have been applied to the attractive and vigorous young man, but in this instance, in which a thirteen-year-old celebrity-struck girl was implicated by self-confession, Schiele indignantly insisted in letters and other writings that he was innocent. Whatever the validity of the accusations against Schiele, the charges were sufficient to hold him in prison for twenty-four days, first at Neulengbach during the month of April, and then, sometime after 1 May, at the larger town of St. Pölten. During this time he managed to keep a diary, complete at least thirteen watercolours and one finished drawing, as well as mould a few sculptures out of bread. He was released, after a court trial, on 7 May. At the trial he was assessed a fine and one of his drawings was burned by the judge in symbolic condemnation of his work—an act which Viennese newspapers were to remember for decades. The humiliation of his arrest, imprisonment, and trial left an enduring imprint upon Schiele, affecting both his personal and his artistic development.”
For My Art and for My Loved Ones I Will Gladly Endure to the End!
“Egon Schiele died quite suddenly of influenza at the age of twenty-eight. What sort of person was he, and how does his art fit into the history of modem art? Along with Richard Gerstl (1883-1908) and Oskar Kokoschka (b. 1886), Schiele stands today as one of the most extraordinary representatives of a distinctly Viennese, as opposed to German, Expressionism. A contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Robert Musil, Arnold Schönberg, George Trakl, Otto Weininger, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, he joined in that collective probing of the psyche which found its first spokesmen in Vienna during the opening decades of the twentieth century.”
Alessandra Comini, Schiele in prison, Thames and Hudson, 1974.

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