The 1900s Viennese Stroke

Rumor had it there was an exhibition up in London on Viennese artists including my two favourites: Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. So this morning I left my house more excited than a child on christmas eve! My art buddy and myself trekked up to London fighting through the crowds till we finally arrived at Trafalgar square. As per usual, the myriad of sounds and sights in this famous square took me by surprise as the bagpipes mingled with the b-boys’ beats and the grand piano accompanied the unicycling street performer.

We entered the National Gallery, camera at the ready, and strolled downstairs to the “Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900” exhibition. The staff curtly told us photography was prohibited in the building so, unfortunately, I cannot show you any pictures! It was split up into 6 sections: The Old Viennese, The Family and the Child, The Appeal of the Artist, The New Viennese, Love and Loss and Finish and Failure.

The variety of styles in the rooms blew me away! Beautifully realistic portraiture and Art Nouveau hanging side by side contrasting with expressionism and many other styles. Each painting in the gallery conveyed the development of Viennese art so exuberantly that the rooms seemed to fill with the energy of the brushstrokes! As I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, I decided the best way to show you what was up was to sketch it.

The exhibition was teaming with people so I managed to squeeze in a pen sketch in of my favourite painting there! The picture below is a self portrait by Egon Schiele painted in 1912 named “Self-Portrait with Raised Bare Shoulder”. As one critic stated “[Schiele’s work was] born from the shudder of a suffering soul” and I most definitely agree. The jutting angles of his face juxtaposing with the curves of the brushstrokes creates an oddly mesmerising, but tortured image. The water colours I used are not true to the painting but the commotion in the exhibition and the other artwork managed to creep into my study.

A little rusty at sketching but here we go.
A little rusty at sketching but here we go

Personally, The Family and the Child and Love and Loss areas wrenched my heart. The paintings were so poignantly conveyed juxtaposing the strength of love and family ties and the fragility of human life! The faces in these paintings portrayed the pain and anguish in the artists heart through the pencil or brushstrokes of their beloved kin on their deathbeds.

I must admit, the artwork was breathtaking, but when a Klimt or Schiele is hanging on the walls, my peripheral vision goes and I just home in on those extraordinary works of art ignoring everything else around me. I truly hope this style of art won’t disappear and the same amount of passion and soul can continue being poured onto canvases just as these great artists did.

Klimt’s ‘Portrait of Lady in Black’

2 thoughts on “The 1900s Viennese Stroke

  1. You were so euphoric that you repeated the last two paragraphs as if to emphasise the impact the exhibition had on you! You almost convinced me to fly from Florida to see such mastepieces….let’s hope that it is a travelling exhibition” 🙂 particularly appreciated your artistic rendition!

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