Saturday, 20 December 2014


Numbers 4 and 3 in the countdown are Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude at the Courtauld, and Facing the Modern -  the Portrait in Vienna at the National.

(I know, nothing I've posted so far is very cutting edge, but I'm not really, I've come to realise. I like a nice painting over something conceptual any day. I can turn my own lights on and off, thanks anyway)

The Schiele show was small but powerful. It's fairly impressive to have invented your own genre by the age of 28, to have a style so distinctive your work is recognisable anywhere, to have revolutionised figure drawing and painting.   They still look shocking and modern, god knows what they made of them at the time.

Though they were really strange times they lived in, and a fairly overwrought society. The Vienna exhibition was wider and interesting, but it convinced you that the Viennese were fairly barking There was a great vogue of teenagers killing themselves, for example. . No wonder they came up with psychoanalysis. Some people are still taking this hysterical pseudo science seriously... 

Fantastic also to see Klimt's great portraits live and direct. You forget that he's so popular not just because his work is attractive, but also because it's really, really good.

Slow handclap for the National Gallery's shop though. They took Schiele's agonising, touching portrait of his young wife on her deathbed, dying of Spanish flu... and put it on the bags in the gift shop.

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