Klimt/Schiele/Kokoschka – Curator’s Tour 1

Klimt/Schiele/Kokoschka – Curator’s Tour 1


Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar
Kokoschka returned to the classic pictorial genres of the portrait but
used them in a completely new and unprecedented fashion to explore these
pressing issues of gender. Gustav Klimt was probably the preeminent portraitist
of the time and after 1900 all of his portraits depicted women. He’s women are
like birds in golden cages. They are beautiful, but at the same time one has
very very little sense of personality. Because of Klimts great success as a
portraitist, young artists like Schiele and Kokoschka also tried to establish
themselves as portaitists. But they’re expressionistic style was so far less
flattering than Klimt’s style that they had much much less success particularly
with female subjects. Schiele developed a deep understanding of the female psyche and
was able to create very very insideful paintings and drawings of women. His
portraits could be compared to an inside-out Klimt. Instead of the
patterning in the background you see the rich patterning only in Edith’s dress and
the background is completely blank. Oscar Kokoschka was less interested in the
individual personalities of his sitter. He was looking to project a kind of spiritual
commonality to transform her into the status of an art object. You can see
that Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka shared a belief in romantic love as a spiritual
union between two people sealed by erotic passion. Their paintings
present a relatively sanitized and idealized view of love, whereas in their works on paper, which
were at the time much more private than their paintings,
they are far more erotically explicit. The mother and child is a pictorial genre
that has a long history in Western art dating back to the Christian image of
the Madonna. But even in secular versions of the subject the mother has a presumed
aura of virginity and chastity. Association of procreation, maternity and sexuality
was very much an artistic taboo at the turn of the century. It was a cause for
enormous outrage. For man at the turn of the 20th century
relationships with women involved a combination of fear and attraction that
could only be resolved through an assertion of dominance. If you look at
Klimts drawings of the nude, his female nudes are often so passive that they
appear nearly catatonic. Schieles women, however, are much more aggressive. They
confront the viewer very often. They stare directly at him or her reclaiming control of the gaze. Kokoschka of the three artists had the most trouble asserting his dominance over
women. You find this reflected in his nudes which for the most part have none
of the erotic prison that you see in the nudes of Klimt and Schiele and then
sometimes really are downright ugly.

4 thoughts on “Klimt/Schiele/Kokoschka – Curator’s Tour 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *