Egon Schiele is, together with Richard Gerstl, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka, one of the most important artists of turn-of-the-century Vienna. He applied at Kunstgewerbeschule (the School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna, where Gustav Klimt had once studied. Within his first year there, Schiele was sent, at the insistence of several faculty members, to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna in 1906. There, he studied painting and drawing, but was frustrated by the school’s conservatism.
In 1907, Egon Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt generously mentored younger artists, and he took a particular interest in the gifted young Schiele, buying his drawings, offering to exchange them for some of his own, arranging models for him and introducing him to potential patrons. Schiele left the Academy in 1909, after completing his third year, and founded the Neukunstgruppe (“New Art Group”) with other dissatisfied students. Klimt invited Schiele to exhibit some of his work at the 1909 Vienna Kunstschau, where he encountered the work of Edvard Munch, Jan Toorop, and Vincent van Gogh among others.
World War I influenced Schiele’s life and work. He was initially stationed in Prague. In the army, Egon Schiele was treated well by officers who respected his artistic talent. He never saw any fighting at the front, and was able to continue painting and sketching while guarding Russian prisoners of war, and doing light guard duties. By 1917, he was back in Vienna, able to focus on his artistic career.
Egon Schiele is known for being grotesque and erotic. Schiele participated in numerous group exhibitions, including those of the Neukunstgruppe in Prague in 1910 and Budapest in 1912; the Sonderbund, Cologne, in 1912; and several Secessionist shows in Munich, beginning in 1911. In 1913, the Galerie Hans Goltz, Munich, mounted Schiele’s first solo show. A solo exhibition of his work took place in Paris in 1914.