Artists That Inspire

Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter, a protégé of Gustav Klimt, Schiele was a major figurative painter of the early 20th century. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality, and the many self-portraits the artist produced, including nude self-portraits. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterise Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism. As a child, Schiele was fascinated by trains, and would spend many hours drawing them, to the point where his father felt obliged to destroy his sketchbooks. To those around him, Schiele was regarded as a strange child. Shy and reserved, he did poorly at school except in athletics and drawing, and was usually in classes made up of younger pupils.

When Schiele was 14 years old, his father died from syphilis, and he became a ward of his maternal uncle, Leopold Czihaczek, who, like his father was a railway official. Although he wanted Schiele to follow in his footsteps, and was distressed at his lack of interest in academia, he recognised Schiele’s talent for drawing and unenthusiastically allowed him a tutor, the artist Ludwig Karl Strauch. In 1906 Schiele applied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste. His main teacher at the academy was Christian Griepenkerl, a painter whose strict doctrine and ultra-conservative style frustrated and dissatisfied Schiele.    

In 1907, Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt, who generously mentored younger artists. Klimt took a particular interest in the young Schiele, buying his drawings, offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons. He also introduced Schiele to the Wiener Werkstätte, the arts and crafts workshop connected with the Secession. In 1908 Schiele had his first exhibition, in Klosterneuburg. In his early years, Schiele was strongly influenced by Klimt and Kokoschka but soon evolved his own distinctive style. Once free of the constraints of the Academy’s conventions, Schiele began to explore not only the human form, but also human sexuality. Schiele’s work was already daring, but it went a bold step further with the inclusion of Klimt’s decorative eroticism and with what some may like to call figurative distortions, that included elongations, deformities, and sexual openness.

Schiele began experimenting with nudes and a definitive style featuring emaciated, sickly-coloured figures, often with strong sexual overtones emerged in 1910. His unconventional style went against strict academia and created a sexual uproar with its contorted lines and heavy display of figurative expression. At the time, many found the explicitness of his works disturbing. In 1911, Schiele met the seventeen-year-old Walburga (Wally) Neuzil, who lived with him in Vienna and served as a model for some of his most striking paintings. 

They wanted to escape what they perceived as the claustrophobic Viennese milieu, and went to the small town of Krumau, the birthplace of Schiele’s mother. Despite Schiele’s family connections they were driven out of the town by the residents who strongly disapproved of their lifestyle. The couple moved to Neulengbach, near Vienna where Schiele’s studio became a gathering place for Neulengbach’s delinquent children. Schiele’s way of life aroused much animosity from townspeople and in April 1912 he was arrested for seducing a young girl of 13, below the 14-year-old age of consent. The police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic drawings in a place accessible to children. In 1915, Schiele chose to marry the more socially acceptable Edith Harms, but had expected to maintain a relationship with Wally; she left him and never saw him again.

Three days after his wedding, Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army where he was initially stationed in Prague. During the war, Schiele’s paintings became larger and more detailed, his female nudes became fuller in figure, but many were deliberately illustrated with a lifeless doll-like appearance. By 1917, he was back in Vienna and able to focus on his artistic career. His output was prolific, but in the autumn of 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed more than 20,000,000 lives in Europe reached Vienna. Edith, who was six months pregnant, succumbed to the disease on 28 October. Schiele died only three days after his wife.ard Buffet

Bernard Buffet was a French Expressionist painter. Best known for his representational work, Buffet’s paintings are often figurative, graphic, and central in their compositions. A bold rejecter of abstract art altogether, Buffet was a member of the anti-abstraction group L’homme Témoin, or the Witness-Man, which passionately argued for the importance of representational art at a time when abstraction began to dominate the critical conversation.

His work revolved around ideas of art history, death, sexuality, popular culture, and politics while often directly referencing contemporary events and artists. Buffet had an extremely prolific career, painting over 8,09800 works and garnering widespread popularity and acclaim, including dozens of international exhibitions and honours such as being inducted into the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1974.

Buffet was born in Paris, in 1928 and was brought up in Nazi occupied France. At the age of 15 studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He worked in the studio of the painter #EugèneNarbonne and among his classmates were #MauriceBoitel, #LouisVuillermoz but he was particularly influenced by #MarieThérèseAuffray. In 1946, he had his first painting shown, a self-portrait, at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at the Galerie Beaux-Arts. By

In 1948 at the age of 20, the Paris art critics awarded Bernard the ‘Prix de la Critique’. The same year, Bernard signed a contract with prolific Parisian gallery, David et Garnier, where he began showcasing his new works each year henceforth. Bernard became an active member of the Parisian artists’ group, ‘L’homme temoin’. In 1955, the famous art magazine, Connaissance des Arts, elected him as the ‘most important post-war artist’.

Sustained by the Maurice Garnier, Buffet produced religious pieces, landscapes, portraits and still-lifes. He developed a highly mannered style with spiky linear forms immediately recognizable as his own. His distinctive style and subject matter illustrate a generation trying to cope with the horrors of the world wars. His paintings are melancholy and solitary, but communicate a unity in human emotional suffering. There is a level of delicacy in Buffet’s work is defined by dry, angular lines that reveal buildings and bodies, which are often elongated and emaciated. Buffet regularly depicted the city of Paris itself, traditionally portrayed as lively and colorful, in a hard and lifeless manner. It is possible the sheer expense of paints was the reason for his sparing use of paint on the canvas and his emphasis on drawing; and he used very little colour, working primarily in gray, black, and green.

The popularity of Buffet’s work, as well as the level of media attention around his lifestyle, were quite high in the 1950s and 1960s. Although he kept on painting throughout his life, there was a certain decline in interest in his work in the last decades of the 20th century. This decline in popularity was partly influenced by his fall from grace with French art pundits, whose support and interest shifted away from figurative art but in November 1973, Kiitchiro Okano founded the Bernard Buffet Museum in Surugadaira, Japan which holds over 1,000 of his works.

He had a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease and when he found he couldn’t work anymore on October 4, 1999 in Tourtour, France at the age of 71 he took his own life by suffocating having taped his head into a plastic bag. He is known for his expressionist paintings above all, but he was also a deft producer of lithography, engraving, sculpture, book illustration, and set design. His work has often been likened to painters #FrancisGruber and #GeorgesRouault.