Schiele’s portrayals of himself and the human body provide a turn-of-the-century antidote to Instagram culture: no beautifying filters in sight. The Albertina Modern’s Egon Schiele and his Legacy exhibition explores his impact on self-portraits in more recent art.
- Places his works alongside contemporary artists with a strong connection to self-portraiture
- For example: Baselitz, Sherman, Lassnig, Dine, and Rainer
- Around 115 works in total
- Runs Sept 10, 2021 – Jan 23, 2022
- See also: Albertina Modern tickets & visitor info
Egon Schiele and self-portraiture
(Maria Lassnig; Notwendiges Verständnis, 1998; chalk, watercolour; Albertina, Wien © Maria Lassnig Stiftung/Bildrecht, Wien 2021)
Meander through Vienna and the decorative delights of Jugendstil and Secessionist architecture suggest your average early 20th-century artist here must have worshipped at the altar of beauty.
And then there is Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918).
Not a man reluctant to portrait himself on canvas. And not a man keen to paint an optimistic, rose-tinted view of the human form.
A look at Schiele’s self-portraits becomes quite an experience. I remember my first time (who ever forgets their first time?). A kind of stunned bemusement, closely followed by an insidious recognition. The images leave a lasting impression, full of brutal honesty, self-dramatisation, alternative perceptions, angular details and diverting use of colour.
As such, Schiele holds a significant place in the history of self-portraiture. This honourable genre finds its beginnings among the likes of Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, though the indomitable rise of the smartphone has given it a modern gloss and accessibility beyond the imaginings of those early proponents.
The Egon Schiele and his Legacy exhibition at the Albertina Modern takes a look at that genre, with a particular focus on Schiele and those who followed in his wake.
The exhibition takes his stark penetrating approach as a catalytic transition that helped lead to a more modernist approach to self-portraits, where discovery and revelation jostle for space (or trump) reproduction and physical recognition.
The displays include numerous Schiele works: self-portraits and similar. These appear alongside dozens of further works by contemporary artists like Maria Lassnig, Arnulf Rainer, Cindy Sherman, Georg Baselitz and others who have gained critical acclaim for their approach to self-portraits.
Cindy Sherman, of course, famously once noted:
When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.
(Sherman’s self-portrayal of a young teenager girl – Untitled #96 – fetched over US$3.8 million at an auction back in 2011.)
Tickets and dates
Take your journey though self-portraiture from September 10th, 2021 to January 23rd, 2022. Any valid entrance ticket for the museum sees you safely inside the exhibition.
Now, if Schiele’s angular delights and fiery eyes prove fascinating, then Vienna has a few other treats for you.
Drop into the Leopold Museum, for example, which has the most important collection of works by Schiele anywhere in the world.
And take a trip out to Upper Belvedere palace, whose permanent exhibition of turn-of-the-century art includes some remarkable Schiele paintings.
This Schiele location guide has a few more ideas, particularly if you wish to trace the footsteps of the artist’s life in the city.
How to get to the exhibition
Simply follow directions at the bottom of the main Albertina Modern page. The museum has the advantage of a convenient location opposite one of Vienna’s biggest subway stations and transport hubs.
Address: Karlsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna