Order the summer edition here

VAGINA! Vulva!

Vienna: Die Jubiläumsschau shows Egon Schiele's 100 year-old artist, where the explicit nude portraits of the woman still provoke.

(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)

SCHIELE EXHIBITION:
The Jubilee Show
Artist: Egon Schiele
Location: Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria
Duration: 23. February to 4. November

The centenary of the world-renowned Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918) is marked with the exhibition The Jubilee Show at the Leopold Museum in Vienna's famous Museum Quarter, where the art is thematically presented with paintings, watercolors, drawings, sketches, letters and photographs. The exhibition serves as a sort of summary of his most important works and shows a multifaceted artist. The order of the different themes in each room shows a clear connection from one theme to another and the connection between the whole.  

The first room, "The Ego," contains self-portraits, both clothed and naked, in extreme poses and grimaces. even portrait Sitting Man Act (Self Portrait) from 1910 shows an 20 year old naked Schiele in an expressive pose with arms up and penis in focus. This is the only one of the five biggest nude paintings of him in this series that has survived. The other four paintings have disappeared and are only depicted in black and white photographs. This self-portrait was the start of a period of nude paintings – of both women and children.

The dominant mother

Schiele had a very ambivalent relationship with his mother, Marie, which may be one of the reasons why he painted so many naked women later in the art. Schiele was Marie's only son, and when his father died, she demanded that Schiele take on her father's role and, among other things, support her financially. Schiele refused and insisted on maintaining his freedom and autonomy.

An honest representation of the woman is exactly what we need to see more of in the modern West.

The relationship with her mother was close, but her controlling and dominant behavior made Schiele feel inhibited and helpless. The works Dead mother, Mother and child, Blind mom og Mother with two children in the second room depicts a sad and tragic mother-son relationship with amorphous colors and clear facial expressions. The paintings make one wonder if there was an involuntary symbiosis there on Schiele's part. 

vulvar

As I enter the third room, which is filled with women's act paintings, I get an odd feeling. The Metoo glasses are firmly attached to the nose root. Schiele's helplessness toward his mother seems to have made him shameless, on the verge of aggressive and vengeful, in his portrayal of girls and women. With the pencil in his hand, it was he who gained power.

His art challenged the time he lived in, and many found it explicit in his works disturbing. He was even arrested in April 1912, charged with seducing and abducting a minor girl. In the lawsuit that followed, he escaped with a warning, and the three days in jail he was sentenced to have erotic drawings hanging in his studio, which was accessible to children, were considered already jailed after his 21 days in custody.

The nude portraits of women, often without face, provoke me in these Metoo times. Schiele's women often pose lying down, with their heads bowed or headless, and with their vulva as the center of the picture. Naked girl with bowed head from 1918 and Girl (Act with yellow fabric) from 1913 are examples of works that give a sense of voyeurism and seem almost fetishistic. Disappointed, I go from work to work, and as I pass by young men who stare at the paintings with red cheeks and shameful cheekiness in their eyes, I feel the inside of the boil. 

I delve even further into the notion of Schiele's fantasy of the woman as the passive, sexually submissive being who is just waiting for a dick to penetrate her. I get angry because I know that this woman's view still exists, including on Hollywood posters of headless women. But did I completely misunderstand Schiele? I doubt my own idea of ​​the artist and decide to take off the aforementioned glasses. 

As soon as they are off, I realize that Schiele's works are uncensored paintings of the vulva – of naked women with nipples free! The rawness of the pictures strikes me as a lightning bolt on a globally heated summer day where it suddenly starts to rain. Here there is no retouching, no embellishment to the truth, but an honest portrayal of the woman with her unshaven sex! Just what we need to see more of in the modern West. 

The uncensored woman

The advertising and film industry likes to retouch and cover the female body. In the porn industry, women appear as smooth and hairless objects to the delight of the man. The majority behind the camera are men – of course. We even have ideals for "the perfect vagina" and surgeons who are always clear with the knife. 

In our time, Schiele's images are still perceived as provocative by many.

In Schiele's work, the woman is the subject, and "the perfect" does not exist. The women often stand in an unnatural position, and are painted from an unnatural angle, but not the type of "unnatural" that women in Palmer's sexualized underwear campaigns do, where they grin broadly with their retouched, compressed tits and buttocks in the weather. But "unnatural" in the form of "abnormal". I look forward to the day when the abnormality becomes normal again, because the normal today provokes me. The majority are provoked by the abnormal – 100 years on and off. 

Still provoking

In fin-de-siècle, an era filled with dramatic changes in art and culture, Schiele's artwork was considered pornographic. It was not until 1918, a few months before he died of Spanish illness at the age of 28, that his art gained some acceptance. But even in our time, Schiele's images are still seen as provocative by many.

We have a long way to go in the fight against the sexualisation of the women's body as long as Schiele's nude portraits of women even today are censored in countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. Kimberly Bradley's article "Egon Schiele Is Still Too Racy for Some, Nearly 100 Years After His Death," published November 10, 2017 in The New York Times, describes how the depicted women's vaginas had to be covered with the banner "SORRY, 100 years old but still too daring today ». 

Social media such as Facebook and Instagram do not allow the publication of nipples and genitals, while half-naked girls in sexual poses with a seductive look, easily covered tits and scattered legs in a string panty are allowed. We have laws against public nudity in Europe; In France, you can be punished with up to one year in jail and fine if you do not cover your breasts and your precious parts (in bathing areas, however, it is allowed to be less clothed).

When there are inventions like breastfeeding, because breastfeeding in public is taboo, and some states in the United States have even made breastfeeding in public, the whole world should go and see Schieles Anniversary show at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. The message is clear: "Release the nipples and vagina!" It's about time.

avatar photos
Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

You may also like