«The Austrian artist Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is renowned for his intensely confrontational portraits, self-portraits, erotic images, and allegories. What is less well known today is that Schiele was also a talented and prolific landscape painter. In this book, Kimberly A. Smith provides the first full examination of Schiele’s landscapes and townscapes, offering a new approach to and insights into the artist’s work and motivations.
Diverging from the conventional interpretation that Schiele’s paintings are revelations of the artist’s psychology and emotional experience, Smith focuses instead on how his landscapes relate to the political, social, and historical conditions in early-twentieth-century Austria. Schiele’s extraordinary depictions of the towns and countryside of Austria register and respond to the alienating effects of modernity, the problematic nature of selfhood, the eroding coherence of the imperial state, and other anxieties of his era.
As Smith argues, the artist’s landscape paintings express the same sense of ruin that preoccupied his contemporaries, but these pictures also contain a compelling note of redemption. In many ways, Schiele’s landscapes offer solutions to the very crises his images present. The landscape paintings thus illuminate not only the structural dynamics of these pictures but also the character of Viennese modernism itself.»