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Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele
Contributions by Alessandra Comini, James T. Demetrion, Johannes Dobai, and Thomas M. Messer
Published in 1965
This publication brings together the work of two Austrian artists—Gustav Klimt and his former student Egon Schiele. Although independent in their style and depiction of their subject, common threads are manifest in the oeuvre of both artists. The two share a certain anxiety and preoccupation with the erotic, yet stylistically Klimt's work is formally ordered and decorative while Schiele's work is unforgiving in its brutality. This exhibition focuses specifically on the output produced late within Klimt's career, while approaching Schiele's work from a retrospective standpoint. The catalogue discusses each artist separately and includes a chronology, essay, and an illustrated exhibition checklist, providing an engrossing insight into the work of two distinctive artists who can be credited with catalyzing the transition from Art Nouveau to Expressionism. When considered together the vibrancy and singularity of each body of work is made evident.
Where Klimt is ornamentally decorous, Schiele is often indecorously expressive. Klimt's meticulously structured mosaic compositions are opposite in concept and execution from Schiele's sure and daring linear scheme, as are Klimt's subtly balanced tonal effects when seen in juxtaposition with Schiele's fauve and eventually expressionist use of color. Klimt strives through formal means to attain an order that, not unlike Mondrian's, reduces spontaneous and individual components to a collective validity. Schiele, in contrast more like Klee, transcribes highly personal insights which then assume the power of evoking common experiences. Above all, Klimt, despite his current relevance to modern art, must be seen as a late exponent of an historic style, whereas Schiele raises to the most intense pitch the newly acquired awareness of 20th century man. Together, Klimt and Schiele signify an end and a beginning, and at one poignant moment their adjoining forms point simultaneously backward and forward to comprise the past and future in a fleeting present.