A DISCERNING EYE – THE COLLECTION OF A NOTABLE LADY
Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Klimt Kokoshka Schiele, Dall' Art Nouveau all' Espressionismo, 2001-02, no. 96, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Vienna, Leopold Museum, Wally Neuzil - Ihr Leben mit Egon Schiele, 2015, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue
The model for the present composition was Schiele’s companion Wally Neuzil, who featured in Schiele’s most visually daring and experimental compositions of his career. One of the more striking features of the present picture is the means by which Schiele applies color to the image. Unlike his later works from 1914 in which gouache completely saturates the image, his pictures from this period offer a more restrained application of his medium that hints at texture rather than expressing it outright. Every stroke of the brush is deliberate and exacting in order to relate only the most tactile details of the figure’s hair and legs. We can see this again in the rendering of the model’s hair in the present work and in a related work, where Schiele captures the individual, tousled strands. The most palpable feature of this image, however, is found in the contours of the figure’s calves, which he has highlighted with a modulation of orange gouache. It is as if Schiele has consciously restrained himself in his investigation of her body, providing us with just enough of the fetishistic details to titillate our senses.
Jane Kallir has written about Schiele’s drawings in 1913, noting how the artist was picking up on aesthetic trends, such as Cubism, and incorporating them into his own aesthetic: “In some drawings from 1913, bizarrely foreshortened figures seem to hurl through space or waok with stiff, uneasy steps on wedge-like, triangulated feet. Interior forms are subdivided into harsh, angular subsections, sometimes heightened by similarly modulated blocks of color. This increased geometricity – which appears concurrently in the artist’s paintings — has been attributed to the influence of Cubism. Schiele had become aware of the French style indirectly, through its impact on his German colleagues and through magazine reproductions. His idiosyncratic assimilation of Cubist geometry had a paradoxical effect, bringing with it not only a greater degree of abstraction, but also a greater awareness of volume. The artist’s 1913 nudes begin a subliminal return to three-dimensional verisimilitude” (Jane Kallir, Egon Schiele, Drawings and Watercolors, New York, 2003, p. 223).
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