Lily Calcagnini, Harvard College ’18

Abstract

There are notable gaps in the scholarly discussion surrounding Egon Schiele, an Expressionist painter in early twentieth-century Vienna, because he has not been the subject of scholarly discussion or object of general museum viewing until relatively recently. In particular, the analysis of his female nudes lacks a variety of opinion and remains detrimentally simplified. This essay mines Schiele’s art, personal life, and the published criticism of his work to better understand this genre of his oeuvre holistically. Ultimately, an analysis of Schiele’s female nudes unearths the artist’s tumultuous relationship with the opposite sex. In each study, painting, or sketch, the artist attempts to evoke the several conflicting perceptions of his model. Particularly, Schiele struggles to reconcile his loving respect for women with his lustful desire for them, especially within a Puritan society that believes these two instincts to be at odds with each other. Such a finding renders Schiele’s work particularly relevant in 2015, as it provides for an inclusive dialogue about relationships.

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