Such aesthetic technique can be seen in “Stylized Flowers in Front of Decorative Background” (1908) from the section Founding of the Vienna Succession. The work proves the artist’s ingenuity in highlighting a contrast between shades of gold and the silver-like background (influenced by Klimt’s style), and the gradating hues of violet juxtaposed against the glittering yellow-orange blossoms. This inventive skill successfully achieves the disparity between decorativeness and flatness. The background appears patterned and gives off a hammered bronze effect due to the alternating brushstrokes. The silhouette of the plant anticipates the outlined forms in Schiele’s succeeding nude works.
Egon Schiele, Stylized Flowers in Front of Decorative Background, 1908, Leopold Museum, Vienna
In the section Egon Schiele: In Search of Identity, we are surrounded by the artist’s many portraits of himself, his lover, wife and other people. “The Lyricist (Self-Portrait)” (1911) is one of Schiele’s best-known self-portraits, tinged with tension and complexity. The artist tilts his head while he gazes directly with a somewhat provoking or frightened look. The anatomy is bony, angular, and drowned in his dark clothing and background. Schiele draws attention to the contradicting proportions of the head, the narrow strip below it on the left shoulder, which appears to be a long, thin neck, and the exaggeratedly slender fingers. The thumb is missing, a noted Schiele trademark, either bent or turned inwards into the palm of his hand. The lower torso is lightened to complement his pale face, dabbed with red, green, and yellow, like veins. This distinctive technique is also evident in his other paintings of human figures.
Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant, 1912, Leopold Museum, Vienna
Also considered one of the artist’s most famous works, “Self-portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant” (1912) portrays full contrast by the dark wardrobe and hair against the white background. The red lantern plant with its curving stems and dried leaves accentuates the entire picture, and excellently controls the complexly positioned shoulder, head and eye movement. The wine-red pupils and moss-green irises of Schiele’s eyes emit a theatrical effect. He stares forcefully with an aura of fragility and firmness.
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