Egon Schiele produced one of the most radical and celebrated bodies of self-imagery of the twentieth century. He laid himself bare through ceaseless existential and stylistic interrogation; his self portraits provide invaluable insight into both his psyche and his craft. The present work, executed in 1910, came at a pivotal moment in Schiele’s career. At just twenty years old, he turned away from the symbolist and Art Nouveau styles of his contemporaries to establish a dynamic Expressionist style all his own.
In Selbstbildnis (1910), Schiele limits self-representation to only three features: an extended right hand, a sinewy left leg and an inquisitive face framed by unkempt hair. He is pictorially dismembered by the delicate outline of his garment, yet the disparate elements of his anatomy are so expressive that each carries the full weight of his existence. Schiele’s outstretched hand, for example, embodies in its exquisite draftsmanship a very visceral sense of life’s agony and desire.