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Sensuous Vienna: Expressive and Provocative Works

CityScape Community Art Space, Bel Art Gallery, North Vancouver
Oct 27, 2001 - Dec 15, 2001

Egon Schiele, Drawing a Nude Model Before a Mirror (1910),
graphite on paper

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918) were superb draughtsmen whose edgy line and form have an aesthetic appeal even today. The works in these two concurrent exhibits include more than one hundred prints of their drawings and watercolours.

Gustav Klimt developed the style of Art Nouveau to perfection. Primary influences on his work included a Pre-Raphaelite legacy of detailed refinement, the colour harmonies of James Whistler and the ornamentation of German Art Nouveau. Klimtís early mastery of monumental painting was achieved with the creation of Viennese ceiling decorations in the late 1880s. His later periods were marked by the influence of Byzantine mosaics with the gold and silver foil effects he so brilliantly applied in paintings like The Kiss. His technique crystallized in a school of painting known as the Vienna Secession.

The evolution of Egon Schiele's starkly expressionistic drawings and paintings owed much to the support of Gustav Klimt, his mentor, and Schieleís impassioned response to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. Like the latter, Schiele sought to find an essence of pure plasticity in line and space. Like Klimt, his dominant themes are sexuality, regeneration, love and death. Narcissistically, he made numerous self-portraits and studies of pre-pubescent delinquent juveniles who gravitated to his studio. Even when punished by authorities for his explicitly erotic portraits, Schiele ñ heralded as a genius by his contemporaries ñ claimed that they were attempting "to murder germinating life". His intense feelings of self-persecution and grandiosity led to the creation of some of the most eloquent and startling images of people in the history of art.

© Mia Johnson