The young artists who founded the rebellious so-called "Neukunstgruppe" (New Art Group) in 1909 wanted to break with the rigid traditions of academic fine art in the spirit of the Secession movements. One of those founders was Egon Schiele, born on 12 June 1890 in Tulln an der Donau ("on the Danube"), Austria, who had studied at the Vienna Academy from 1906-09.
His early work still bears Impressionist features and shows the influence of Gustav Klimt's Viennese Art Nouveau patterns, but from 1910 onwards more and more Expressionist features were included in his painting. His nudes of girls in particular are provocatively sensual and erotic, which went against the moral standards of the time and earned him a short prison sentence in 1912.
When he shifted to a more tectonic pictorial structure, he increasingly included city views and landscapes in his range of motifs. They never radiate cheerfulness, but rather are considered symbols of transience and death. The artist's mood is vehemently expressed through them as if he identified with them.
Egon Schiele sought to illustrate the spiritual life of his models in his portraits, through which the artist had achieved great recognition.
He repeatedly created paraphrases of main works by Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh or Auguste Rodin. In 1915, Schiele was conscripted into military service. He expressed these experiences in more realistic and detailed paintings. On 31 October 1918 Schiele succumbed to the Spanish flu.
Schiele's works are considered the most important link between Art Nouveau and Expressionism and fetch top prices at international auctions. The most important Schiele collection in the world is in the Leopold Museum, Vienna.