This portfolio, published four years after Schiele's untimely death from influenza in 1918, contains eight of the seventeen prints the artist made during his brief career, including examples of his signature sinuous nudes. The discomfort of their contorted poses seems especially acute in the drypoints, which feature sharply scratched lines and prickled edges. Schiele had been encouraged to try printmaking by his patron, art critic Arthur Roessler, who believed it would provide the artist access to the large German print market. Roessler and Franz Hauer, another supporter, appear in two of the portraits in this portfolio.
Gallery label from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011.
Egon Schiele here explored his typical genres, nudes and psychologically penetrating portraits, in the medium of printmaking. Schiele carefully manipulated the sinuous lines of Kauernde (Squatting woman) after observing nudes in the studio. The compositions of this print and Kümmernis (Sorrow) are closely related to two of his paintings of mothers, potent symbols for artistic creation in his work, while the portraits of Arthur Roessler and Franz Hauer honor two of his most important patrons. The portfolio includes two lithographs that Schiele made for a commission in 1918 and that were ultimately rejected, one of which, Mädchen (Girl), due to its graphic depiction of adolescent sexuality, another characteristic of his work.
Schiele made only seventeen prints during his abbreviated career. Roessler had encouraged him try the medium, touting its financial rewards and the access it gave to the lucrative German art market. Roessler provided the plates for the prints in this portfolio, and Schiele incised them in 1914, although none were published during his lifetime. Four years after Schiele's untimely death from influenza in 1918 at age twenty-eight, Otto Nirenstein acquired the artist's prints for publication by the Verlag Neuer Graphik, the fine arts imprint of the Rikola Verlag in Vienna. Das Graphische Werk von Egon Schiele (The graphic work of Egon Schiele) contains Schiele's last two lithographs and his entire oeuvre of six drypoints.
Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.