Schiele, the terrible child facing Basquiat at the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Two meteors exploded in flight” as Suzanne Pagé sums it up at the origin of this dialogue of titans at the Louis Vitton Foundation. Both are part of the rupture and owe their posterity to a shattered and sulphurous destiny. If the market has softened Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose rating is constantly at the top, with the last record at Sotheby’s in 2017 of 110 million dollars, the former Bronx kid if he conveys like his elder, the myth of the romantic genius of youth with a precocity like no other, the comparison stops there.
According to Schiele’s mother, Marie he tried his hand at drawing at the age of one and a half years (see catalogue) and is the youngest to join the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 16.
Accused and imprisoned for indecent assault and paedophilia, Schiele will serve 25 days in prison, giving free rein to an introspection of a rare intensity.
In this cosmopolitan and twilight Vienna, he first tries to get to the fluidity of Jugendstil with Klimt as his mentor before joining the expressionist camp with Oskar Kokoschka as his figurehead, his rival whom he meets alongside the dancer Moa and the mime Erwin Osen. He definitively broke with the Academy when his teacher Christian Griepenkerl kept blaming him for the speed of his execution, and later founded the Neukunstgruppe with his peers. Against the backdrop of a painful family history, the father’s dementia following the syphilis contracted with Viennese prostitutes, his early self-portraits (1909-12) testify to his anguish in the face of this terrible secret. In turn raging, thoughtful or angry, the line exudes inner emotional torment in a very experimental vein. He displays a beautiful assurance in the “Self-portrait in a vest, standing up” whose face is nested with a white halo as if to underline its aura, the hands taking up a symbolic gesture of Christian salvation. Another masterpiece that cannot be ignored, as Dieter Buchhart, curator, points out, “Self-portrait, head” (1910).
It is with his younger sister Gerti that he finds a docile muse ready to indulge in his forbidden games, under the somewhat worried eye of his father.
His nudes go from these years of maturity to just 19 years old, against the current canons defy the authority of the male gaze. In it, the woman affirms the full power of her desire in a proximity to the viewer created by spatial distortion effects and positive (jouissance) and negative (nothingness) tension. Eros and Thanatos.
Her knowledge of the female psyche is confirmed with Wally muse and true companion who becomes her favorite model and manages all her affairs. His famous portrait of 1912 kept at the Leopold Museum has, as during a “self-portrait in a cockerel”, a great softness and harmony. The cruelty of the story, he did not marry Wally with sumptuous red hair but with simple condition and chose Edith Harms whose father was a German railway employee. He does not find with the latter this intense artistic complicity that will have difficulty getting used to this bohemian life, taking languid and melancholic breaks in portraits where she refuses to undress (sublime Portrait of 1917, The Morgan Library New York)
When he died of the Spanish flu, Schiele followed her the following year to the tomb against the backdrop of World War II, whose horror he unconsciously sensed by fragmenting and mutilating the bodies.
If there is one constant in this tragic destiny, it is the conquest of the line and its prescience, alternately ornamental, expressive, combinatorial, amputee, recomposed, according to the path chosen by the Commissioner.
So don’t shy away from your pleasure and take the time to savour this hundred drawings and watercolours and ten paintings with no other ambition than to taste the dazzling radicality and the abyss of the abyss. Schiele, the living dead man.
until January 14th
Louis Vuitton Foundation
Every day from 9am to 9pm
Catalogue published by FLV/ Gallimard, 35 €
In addition, read our article on Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Egon Schiele – Louis Vuitton Foundation
Foundation ticket – jean-michel basquiat & egon Schiele
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