Egon Sheiller and Edvard Munch, were not only great painters, their lives were fraught with difficulties, which no doubt had a strong baring on their powerful work.
Egon Sheiller, the Austrian painter had a life tainted by controversy, and caused uproar and outrage with his raw, universalized approach to the nude and his leaning towards highly erotic paintings, at a time when people were far more puritanical. He dropped out of Art College due to the fact he did not appreciate his tutors rigid approach. If you scrutinize his work it is evident he had a strident fascination and appetite for the female form. Egon even landed himself in prison, accused of seducing a minor – the runaway daughter of a naval officer who had been seen, along with a number of other children, lingering outside his studio. Although the main charge proved unfounded and was subsequently dropped, Schiele was forced to spend 24 days in jail for exhibiting erotic material where minors were present. I guess even in modern times he would be seen a controversial figure.
His time in prison brought about twelve paintings, in which he expressed his trauma and angst of being locked up. Concerning his erotic work he wrote in his diary, “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 obviously packed a lot into his short life, dying aged 28 having contacted Spanish flu, his pregnant wife dying three day previously. A life filled with tragedy but an artist who painted great images and had a very distinctive style.
Edvard Munch also had an uneasy life, his mother died because she was infected with tuberculosis. Following this, his sister Sophie died with the same disease. Another sister of his was suffered from mental illness in the age of 15 years old. In the age of 30, his brother died because of Pneumonia. It is no surprise that his work began to revolve around sickness and death. Munch was in a constant battle to control his drinking problem and mental illness. Munch died on 23 January 1944 in Nazi-occupied Norway. Of course he is famous for his painting called “The Scream”. It expresses something which we all need to do from time to time letting out all our anguish.
Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.
This article is part of a blogging challenge,