Egon Schiele’s The Radical Nude – WNOL’s best bits
Recently, The Radical Nude has attracted a lot of attention, with rave reviews coming in from RA magazine and the Guardian. But if you’re a regular punter wandering around the Strand, then you’ll probably find this exhibition rather dull. If you’re an art enthusiast however, this exhibition is for you
Up the winding, vertigo-inducing staircase inside the Courtauld Gallery is where you’ll stumble across the appropriately named exhibition, The Radical Nude. It’s an intimate setting set in two rooms, filled with A3 frames of his work. Instead of frittering your student loan on takeaways, why not absorb a little art? Be sure to get an advance ticket, the weekend draws quite a hefty crowd – you may be better off going on a weekday. Tickets start from just £3 for students. Tempting? Us art fans at WNOL think so. Here are, what we thought, were the best pieces from the display.
Sick Girl, 1910.
This haunting painting was titled after Schiele’s death in 1918, yet the name is relevant to her sickly appearance. Her eyes appear glazed over with illness and her skin is sallow. Her gaze is harrowing; what’s she thinking? The glowing white streaks above her private’s are disturbing, yet it’s hard to look away. Such a portrait would have undoubtedly caused controversy now, let alone in Vienna in the 1900’s.
The fiery blood-red coloured skin immediately jumps out at you. Maybe the colour symbolises the raw effort needed to carry another life. Her splayed position looks uncomfortable; as if she may be about to give birth. The absence of a face suggests she is consumed by her pregnancy or the pain of labour.
Male Nude, 1910.
This is likely to be a self-portrait of Schiele himself. The mixture of sludgy greens and reds on the decaying skeletal body is slightly disturbing to look at – almost corpse like. Here, the cut off head emphasises the male figure in its full, emaciated form.
Self Portrait Nude, 1910.
The theme of malaise seems to run throughout Schiele’s self-portraits. The thick white outline highlights the rotten appearance of his flesh. But is it a physical representation of rot we’re looking at? Or possibly the decaying of his mind. As with many of Schiele’s works, the meaning is left ambiguous.
Before the Mirror, 1913.
The bright mint green jumper stands out amongst the neutral coloured portraits. The contrast between the clothed torso and the raw naked bottom half makes it feel more explicit than his other nudes. Her expression adds to the cheeky nature of this semi-nude portrait.
Two Girls Embracing (Two Friends), 1915.
The name is titled two friends, but the embrace suggests otherwise. Could they be lovers? The red, ruffled dress captures the possible romantic atmosphere present in the piece. However, the doll-like face depicted on one of the models adds an eerie tone to the mood of the painting.
Standing Nude in Red Jacket, 1913.
The erotic nature of the picture is apparent by the use of red lines and touches of colour. The jacket nonchalantly slung over her shoulders suggests a definite sassiness in her attitude. Here, we are forced to gaze and appreciate at the female figure in its most full-frontal form.
Woman in Boots, 1918.
There is a lot of sexual energy in the composition of this piece – it comes to life. Schiele is known for his provocative nudes and this one certainly doesn’t fall short. In comparison to her pale skin, her privates are explicitly highlighted by red detailing. The model lifts up her skirt in a seductive way and we are almost invited in.
This piece shows the female figure in a form that we aren’t used to – muscular. Unlike the skinny models in his previous works, she is toned and shapely. From this, it’s clear to see how Schiele’s nudes established him as one of the most influential and daring artists in Vienna.
If you went down to The Radical Nude, how did you find it? Did you like or loathe it? Tweet us at @Wnolculture and let us know.
Pictures: Stephanie Traore, Mefusbren69