“Listless in Lockdown”
Process and back story:
The sketches I had made quite some time ago: the man at a ‘life class’ that was part of a course for ‘Primary School Art Co-ordinators’ about 25 years ago, and the woman while in hospital a few years after that.
The composition was created from six layers in Adobe Photoshop Elements:
- background with a gradient fill in pale blue and turquoise
- blanket in blocks of blues and grey, mixed using the ‘Blur Tool’
- man added from a photograph of my graphite pencil sketch, background erased
- woman added from a photograph of my sketch, background erased and daubs of yellow added for hair
- photograph of my Kindle, background erased and colour darkened
- photograph of two books (a Stephen King and another on learning to draw), background erased
- to draw all the parts together, and add a visual nuance of lockdown I used ‘Filter – Artistic – Plastic Wrap’
I completed the image yesterday and this morning my husband was reading from a ‘History of Wales’ book. One comment jumped out at me and I decided to share it here as I felt it apposite to this time,
(they) “wore boredom like a second skin”. For some this must seem like a period of mental hibernation, a slowing down to preserve what motivation and concentration you have left. My aim was to capture this feeling of isolation and personal protection by wrapping the scene in plastic.
‘Seated Woman with Bent Knee‘, Egon Schiele, 1917
An Austrian painter and an early exponent of Expressionism, he was considered a major figurative painter of the early 20th century.
Schiele sought out Gustav Klimt who encouraged the young artist by introducing him to a wider art world, and buying his drawings. His work is intense with strong overtones of eroticism and raw sexuality displayed through physical distortions, imperfections, and waif-like portrayals of vulnerability.
I debated whether to include this work once I’d read about the artist. But I had obviously first come across the work many years ago when I made my sketch. Then, planning my ‘Art in lockdown’ posts, this sketch had come to mind and I enjoyed the time I spent working on this one.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing, but I leave it to my readers to comment on whether I should have given this artist space.
Briefly, this is what I found:
- not a good student, except in athletics and drawing
- his incestuous attraction to his young sister Gertrude was known to his family making it necessary for them to look out for her welfare; at 16 he took his 12 year old sister to Trieste and they stayed overnight together in a hotel room
- at 21 years he met 17 year old Walburga; they lived together in Vienna and she modelled for him; it is possible that she had been one of Klimt’s mistresses; they moved to Krumau in southern Bohemia but were driven out by disapproving residents
- 1912, after they had moved back to Vienna the local delinquent children chose his studio as a meeting place; at the time the age of consent was 14 years and he was arrested for seducing a girl of 13 with over 100 pornographic drawings being seized by police; the judge found him guilty of having erotic drawings where they could be seen by children, but not of seduction and abduction
- 1914, Schiele became aware of a middle-class family living opposite
- 1915, Schiele proposed to one of the daughters, Edith, but was surprised when Walburga severed their relationship and never saw him again; Edith modelled for most of his female work and from this time the figures were either fuller, or deliberately doll-like, while he worked on themes of motherhood and family
- 1915, he was called up for military service and while in the military he drew more male figures, by necessity
- 1917, returned to Vienna where his output was phenomenal and assured
- 1918, Edith was six months pregnant when she, and Schiele, caught the Spanish flu; Edith was the first to die and he sketched her over the three days before he died; he was 28
- 1913, Schiele exhibited first solo show with another in Paris in 1914
- 1918, he had 50 works accepted for the Secession’s 49th exhibition in Vienna, all hung in the main hall; in a poster he designed for the exhibition he created a ‘Last Supper’ with himself in the place of Christ
- 1980, Schiele was the subject of a German production biographical film, as well as an Arts Council of Great Britain documentary; another biographical film was released in 2016
- his life has also been depicted in a 1990 novel, a 1999 play, a theatrical dance production of 1995, and by a contemporary dance company in 1997; his life and works have been the subject of essays, and he featured in a 1997 novel.
In essence he was, during a very short artistic life-time, a prolific producer of individualistic works that captured his unique view of humanity. In today’s society he would be deemed a paedophile and exploiter of the young.
If you have enjoyed reading my thoughts and seeing my artwork please like, share, and comment. I would very much like to read your opinions on this, and other artists who crossed boundaries.
Thank you for reading.
Stay well. Stay safe. Stay apart.