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"Crouching Woman with Green Kerchief", 1914 (The Leopold Museum, Vienna)

Was Egon Schiele a pornographer who exploited models in order to satisfy the paedophilia of his rich clients, or one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, whose haunting images of the human body gave new meaning to the line of beauty? Interested readers may judge for themselves at Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, an exhibition of some 38 works from private as well as public collections that opened last month at the Courtauld Gallery, London.

"Standing Nude with Stockings", 1914 (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremburg)

In his short life (1890-1918), Schiele produced an astonishingly large corpus, much of which has until recently remained unseen in public. This show traces the development of his prodigious draughtsmanship — he drew very fast, holding the pencil or crayon vertically to the page — and of his fascination with female sexuality. 

"Woman in Boots with Raised Skirt", 1918 (The Leopold Museum, Vienna)

Like other Viennese artists of his day, Schiele was promiscuous — but was he a paedophile? It is true that he painted pubescent girls and in 1912 was charged with, imprisoned for but not convicted of abducting and seducing a 13-year-old. He was convicted of exhibiting erotic drawings accessible to children. The judge notoriously burnt one of his drawings in court. But the age of consent in Austria, then as now, was 14 and paying girls as models is not necessarily the same as abusing them. His known girlfriends and wife were all above age when he had sex with them. So it is going too far to convict him posthumously of what is now seen as the ultimate sex crime.
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November 2nd, 2014
10:11 PM
Tracey Emin is pleased to be exhibiting her drawings and painting in an exhibition with works by Egon Schiele. She`s taken up drawing from the model and is happy to be "starting again". Best of luck to her. Some of Gustave Klimt`s more luxurious art materialism might inspire her next. In this months Art Review Power 100 edition is a picture of the nude inside Duchamp`s `Given 1.The Waterfall 2.The Illuminating Gas` . It took him (and his wife) 20 years to complete it. And it wasn`t meant to be exhibited during Duchamp`s lifetime. After his death it`s now on permanent exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art,USA. For Camille Paglia and Sir Ken Clark the nude is central to western culture and civilisation. Allen Jones RA thinks himself a feminist and minimalist abstraction blocked out figuration in art. So now there`s a collaborative work from him and `naked` model Kate Moss. Schiele`s art is the beautiful tip of the iceberg on the subject.

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