Forgive me, but I do not recall if I have said this elsewhere, and given how much I babble that is entirely possible, but Schiele and Klimt are inextricably bound together in my mind as sharing a similar aesthetic. Klimt was always a little easier to like though, hence his prevalence on student bedroom walls, and Schiele was a little more problematic; he had some proclivities that made him a little less cuddly. Klimt was always the Beatles to Schiele’s Stones.
I heard the angularity of Schiele’s art dancing through Joy Division’s music, read it in Bellow’s Dangling Man, and maybe even in the harrowing performance of Bale’s Machinist. Egon Schiele for me at least lacks the opulence on display in Klimt – you feel the weight of the thinker moving around in this skin he inhabits like the twist of discomfort of someone trying to hide themselves from the regard of the audience who is invited inside what always feels like a naked moment.
The most edgy artists, and the ones who maintain that edginess are usually the ones whose art while being deeply embedded within the self awareness of the artifice of what they are doing, also is pressed up tight and close against the humanity which it is exploring. Think about those touchstones, which I freely admit are only loosely connected by the web of my associations, are all resplendent in the artiness and equally embracing of their balls-achingly naked raw humanity.
Is Egon easy? Are some of the things about him shading into a darkness that would make most people understandably uncomfortable? No he’s not easy, sure he’s slightly dodgy, but is his art fucking amazing and does it make you feel? And does it reward the time you invest in it? Yes, it sure does.