The Erotic Art of Schiele: “I Believe in the Immortality of all Creatures”

“I do not deny that I have made drawings and watercolors of an erotic nature. But they are always works of art. Are there no artists who have done erotic pictures?” – Egon Schiele

In what has turned into an ongoing blog-series celebrating artists who embody a nymphobrainiac ideal (the merging of intellectual and erotic mindfulness) I am returning to Egon Schiele. An Austrian painter whose body of work was completed in the early 20th century, yet still continues to repel and enthrall today.

His work has that dialectic quality. It is not “pretty” to the eye; the lines are jilted and simplistic, the colors splotchy and garish,


When Schiele painted the human form he actually captured aspects of the human condition:

Nude. Awkward. Sexual. Emotional. Twisted.

His figures looked like people who had lived…a difficult life…a quality captured in the very lines that “confined” their twisted shapes.

There is something almost intrusive about his painting…as if you just walked in on someone masturbating…they feel personal, intimate; as if they are still possessed by the subjects, and we are intruding on their moment.

All of these characteristics make Schiele’s work timeless and addictive. I have never looked at one Schiele image, only many.

Schiele’s personal life mirrored the non-conformity depicted in his art. He often shacked-up with underage delinquents in a kind of commune-style living arrangement and was eventually arrested for seducing a girl under the age of consent; however, after appearing before a judge, he was found innocent.

Schiele’s relationship with his mother was strained:

“My mother is a very strange woman… She doesn’t understand me in the least and doesn’t love me much either. If she had either love or understanding she would be prepared to make sacrifices.” 

With this in mind, Schiele’s salacious depictions of women appear to reflect an unconscious and twisted (really maladaptive) wish for intimacy…love.

His self-portraits almost always portrayed a nude, contorted, pained Schiele…

Theories abound about Schiele’s “overly-close” relationship with his sister (Gerti) implying incest, which was unsubstantiated…however, this interpretation remains a powerful intuition as to the inspiration behind Schiele’s sometimes disturbing work.

At one point, Schiele studied under Klimt, which may be obvious from the style adopted in his painting from that time. And while am a lover of Klimt’s work…I prefer Schiele, when he was doing Schiele…dirty, nasty, raw…HUMAN.

I think Schiele, himself, understood his work best (not a quality common in all artists) when he commented:

“Art cannot be modern. Art is primordially eternal.”

This, I think, gets to the heart of the matter…

Schiele’s work sheds the pretty dressing of society and culture and shows us…who we would be…primal, raw, base. 

Have a great weekend nymphobrainiacs! xxx c.

One thought on “The Erotic Art of Schiele: “I Believe in the Immortality of all Creatures”

  1. Lucianus Mauricius says:

    They’re a bit macabre. Number 2 seems like a woman sown together by different body parts and it still looks like the experiment went wrong. Her body is contorted in such a way seem like it’s been broken off inside which shows as bulges on the outside. Number 5 seems like a straw-made like man with a menacing face more than erotic. Really awkward expression for erotic watercolor.

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