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Drawing by Egon Schiele

Heard on The Street
Work by Egon Schiele Censored
United Kingdom and Germany


To mark the 100th anniversary of the death of artist Egon Schiele (1890–1918), the Austrian capital has organized exhibitions across the city. The nudes by Schiele were going to be the protagonists of this artistic celebration, jumpstarting a traveling exhibition across Europe—consisting of paintings, works on paper, and documents by an artist who at the early age of 28 met an untimely death during the flu epidemic of 1918. Scheduled to be shown at the Leopold Museum (Vienna) on February 23, the European presentation of the exhibition proposal has been rejected by Britain and Germany. These two countries have refused to advertise the nudes painted by Schiele included in the advertising campaign on billboards and walls across European cities. In Germany and the United Kingdom the depiction of genitals in Schiele's work is considered pornography and therefore its public advertisement is forbidden.

One hundred years after his death, the work by this prominent expressionist artist and disciple of Gustav Klimt continues to be censored. As result of the controversy surrounding this tribute to his artistic production organized by the Austrian capital, the Vienna Tourism Office has decided to partially cover the advertisements going to billboards and building walls with a banner that reads: "SORRY, 100 years old but still too daring today," with the hashtag #ToArtItsFreedom.

During his short life, Egon Schiele was censored several times as many considered his work to be pornographic. In fact, he spent three months in jail because of his work. This aspect of his life was revealed after his death by Arthur Roessler who, while researching Schiele's life, found thirteen pages written by Schiele while in jail along with some drawings that he created during the days of incarceration. Schiele depicted himself with a shaved head and as a great victim who wore the torture of that period on his face. In his work he wrote phrases in which he demanded freedom and understanding: "To restrict the artist is a crime. It is to murder the gestation of a life."




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