I am writing this article on Egon Schiele and Paul Klee .
I want to tell you right away that I have never read an article before that brings these two painters together, rightly, because they are two different phenomena.
Then in the article there will also be the Dubliner Francis Bacon , but he will only be passing through here, as will Marc Chagall .
Usually they are treated within their social context or rather within their artistic context.
Probably one has already seen the names Egon Schiele and Paul Klee nearby.
Due to the fact that the second of the two, Paul Klee crossed the Viennese Secession, the artistic movement of Schiele.
Eleven years run between the two.
Paul Klee was born in 1879.
Egon Schiele is younger, born in 1890, when Paul is 30 Egon is nineteen.
But, did the engines stop for a moment, or am I wrong? Stop like this, let the downsteam take us to its side; let us drift.
When we turn them back on, I will start telling where I left off and at that point it will be time to maneuver to enter the harbour.
For now let’s try to grant ourselves that moment of peace that can be experienced in contact with nature.
I am not referring to the pure air that is perceived during a mountain walk.
Rather than that feeling of loss of personal boundaries, the loss of the boundary of one’s own body.
The moment in which one enters so much in tune with the elements that one returns to being part of nature.
No more thinking machines tuned to your desires.
Wishes that come from the world of appearance, Saturday night, the appetizer, the shopping center, the latest cry, the race to the parking lot, the best shot.
I speak of giving us now the moment that I call Around the world.
Here we do it in front of a screen.
We do this together yes, with Paul Klee and Egon Schiele.
But without your good half, we won’t be able to get anywhere.
It will still be the same day the same time, the same exact minute as before you start reading.
Before us there will be only the usual old well-known problem whatever it is; unfortunately it will be the usual list of things to do.
The usual cursed barking dog, the usual disturbing neighbor, the usual old uncertainty as to whether or not to throw that pair of shoes.
Here, however, we will travel around the world, if you agree.
We do not leave except to return. And yet we must leave.
My most loyal readers know that they can trust each other blindly.
When they receive the notification from their favorite social network, they told me, Well a new Elettra article has been released, for tonight I have no commitments.
Had it been a few decades ago, when they got home at dusk they would have put the ham radio on, they would have turned the light off, even if nobody comes to play, for a coffee or a game of cards anymore, two kicks to the ball, at least from a century.
Tonight I have to send the neighbors to hell, there aren’t anybody for tonight.
Someone would turn on the ham radio and report the news to other friends.
Someone on the other side of the microphone would have answered, What? Whose new article?
And that of return, by Elettra Nicodemi
Ugh, and where?
Inside The Staircase I step and close .
Then he would shut down the ham radio. Turned on the softest light, the desk lamp. Shut the shutters so that those damned bats wouldn’t have to enter the room.
There is a risk that they will end up slamming all the walls without understanding what the hole they came from is, and that they get hurt.
All my friends know that I hate that someone can hurt one of those damned flying cars, because they are blind and naked like cats; they are submarines with wings, they use sonar.
Someone also knows that sometimes I spend hours watching them at night sitting on the top of the car, the street lamps of the parking lots attract bats like honey flies.
European bats are by no means large in size and are extremely timid as well as extremely useful creatures, although they do not have the slightest knowledge of them.
They follow instinct.
What then in reality what makes the most charm of the street lamps are the swarm of butterflies that fly around.
It must be sensational to launch yourself against a light and turn at the last second.
They do not see the danger of smashing themselves against the lamp, they follow trajectories that you can never foresee except after having looked at them for hours for days, and which are suitable only for that slice of sky.
After loving them that micro second when you started asking yourself, what the hell is going on up there? At that moment you loved because you decided to try to get to know; you have lost the balance of ordinary life.
Did you step on your feet and stop the car door before it closed? Did you shake the hand of your lover? Did you hunt all the midges that buzzed around you behind your head, did you attach yourself to Mom’s skirt with a finger pointing to the sky?
At least once in your life the bats will have been what I call your Big Wheel, the highlight of the evening, your Ferris wheel.
So if for a moment you want to be taken by the hand, I promise you that I will bring you back , you will start again to feel the soles of your feet in your shoes, in other words I will put you back down to earth.
I promise you a ride, nothing else, make yourself comfortable, though.
Release the button, especially after the meal it is good to loosen the belt, munch something, finally decide to take the herbs for the foot bath from the shelf.
They are so relaxing, whatever it is, breathe deeper.
1909, Paul Klee
It is 1909 Paul Klee exhibits at the international exhibition of secession, he has two paintings to attach.
1909, Egon Schiele
It is 1909 and Egon Schiele has just left the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, it’s been a few years since he met Gustav Klimt.
He does not know that he would soon become the favorite of the charming Viennese painter or that perhaps he was already, he had been from the first moment at the Café Museum Vienna in 1907 when they met for the first time.
The Butterfly and the Bat
Before trying to clarify which of the two is the butterfly and who the bat I mean between Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt I think it is appropriate to at least announce you -just announce you for now- that here we will also talk about economics and philosophy, it will not be just a matter of night beasts and painters, I hope you don’t mind, I should have done it sooner.
Before clarifying whether it is a bat and a butterfly or if it is not a dual existence of the two, I will explain better, but I would like to show you some images.
I have something here by Egon Schiele and Paul Klee.
Leave Gustav’s paintings aside because you already know them. The Kiss, The Embrace, who has never seen them for at least one second.
I think back on whether those two had guessed it in 1907.
Hard to say after so long, more than a century.
And we have no diary by Gustav Klimt, nor a document from Egon Schiele; we are in the open sea.
1907 is already out of time, something that belongs to memories.
It is now 1909 Egon Schiele is out of the Academy, there they only made him paint what others had painted, they taught him to conform.
He needs answers, he needs his Around the World, he is looking for something that has been ousted from the Academy of art, he is looking for artists.
Artists like him different from him someone who understands what he feels, his inner world, conflicts with the world, injustices that he lives, on a social level, on the level of the value of life, on the depth of man.
He has something that moves inside him, he needs to frame it, pull it out, when he paints he tunes in to that something, so he decided for the painting academy, but there they teach him a job, they don’t help him express himself, there they prevent him from painting , there they inculcate that there is a road to follow and that one must follow it; or at least they try.
There they tried to make him forget the destination of the trip; the reason that pushed him to go, you can not sweep under a carpet, to rest on the stand.
The creative flair is stronger than any other nonsense , it is true, it is alive and needs other artists, others like him who live the relationship with society in a conflictual way.
Because society is not open enough to include people who suffer or people’s bodies.
Head, head, whole head, no belly; head in painting, head in thinking about art, head in living.
He Egon is a bat: he uses sonar, he is hungry and goes where there are butterflies, where there is light.
Its lamppost is the Museum Vienna Café. The butterfly for himself has been found during 1907 and is named Gustav Klimt, he will become his best teacher, his best friend, one with whom he tunes in.
1909 Francis Bacon
It is 1909 and Francis Bacon is screaming in his cradle; on October 28th of that year he decided to stick his head in the hole, and to get out of his mother’s belly; it was time to come into the world.
You never know why we decide to do that last stretch before coming to light until after a long time; sometimes decades have to pass.
At other times the moment when we turn back and understand the meaning of our life comes after a quarter of a century; other times even after half of a century, sometimes it takes a whole life and a bit of luck.
Someone do not understand it at all, they leave before the good moment has peeped out from behind the pile of paperwork, sometimes the bottom step is fatal.
But when that moment comes, the moment you turn back and the whole road you’ve walked makes sense , then that’s Hallelujah day.
Hallelujah, then it comes out like a white dove, every breath from that moment is a cold and broken halleluhia.
You can finally look forward with a goal, with a direction to keep, and all the sea you have left behind is no longer just salt water, but a route traveled.
Until then, you had faith that a sense would come, but you had little evidence, believed in something, went on or seemed to be changing direction.
It was irrational, it was inconsistent, it was your life, it was something you carried on, for no good reason.
I can say it with certainty; that moment for each of you has come or will come.
There is a certain stability in human nature, albeit in varying historical-geographical conditions.
Each of us at least for a period of our life has acted without logic; the rationality of each of us for a more or less considerable period was a-logic, without logic, even if there was a logic; a non-instrumental logic, a rationality without adequate means for the purpose.
Like a flag flying on its pole.
We cried, laughed, cashed slaps, more often moral slaps than physical slaps, we destroyed ourselves, we cured ourselves, we started looking around, then looking beyond.
Then the flag that previously waved on a pole, we realize, is a flag that is waving on the triumphal arch and no one will ever be able to explain how he could get up there, otherwise the cold and broken Halelujah that comes out from our chest.
So I like to think that the day of 1909 when Paul Klee participated in the exhibition of the Viennese secession, in Berlin , was the day when the series of coincidences that would have crossed his destiny with that of Marc Chagall, in 1914, perhaps he had to meet one of the brightest minds of the twentieth century who was traveling on the first St. Petersburg-Paris trip of his life.
He did not know that it would be long before he could return there to Berlin, just as Marc Chagall did not know that the paintings he would leave in Berlin would be lost which he found in the second trip during 1923.
Egon Schiele probably did not know why he felt that restlessness that accompanies all his artistic production, just as he accompanied the decision to leave what could be considered the main road for a career as a painter, the Academy .
The world was changing irreversibly .
The crisis of 1873
The effects of the great depression of 1873-1895 (also called the crisis of 1873) began to crystallize .
Due to the fact that new political measures were being implemented and the orientation of economic measures was based on a whole new form of economy, capitalism.
The economic crisis of 1873 caused urbanization, a social phenomenon characterized by massive migration from the countryside to the cities and from the least developed to the strongest areas.
The crisis began in 1873 and lasted for twenty years .
There were two events that marked the crisis: 8th May 1873 in Vienna there was a strong morning of sale on the stock exchange , savers were fearful of their savings and a wave of panic resulted: everyone was selling shares, the price was falling; September 18th, 1873, a bank , Jay Cooke & Company, went bankrupt in the United States; the Northern Pacific Railway had cost a hole as big as a black hole, there was a second episode of panic on the stock exchange.
The New York-based US banking institution, Jay Cooke & Company, is unable to recover the loans it has made for the construction of that railroad.
The United States collapsed in the panic of 1873 and the country’s production marks a third less.
Demand is missing, buyers are missing, layoffs are increasing and the unemployed are consequently increasing.
The crisis becomes a matter for Great Britain, France and Germany.
It tries to make up for the surplus of goods, producing less and then selling to backward countries, colonialism begins in other countries, a strategy that does not bring great recovery successes, however it has consequences.
And it is also determined by new technologies for the transport of goods: the boats go from sailing to motor.
US goods saturate European markets; American goods are cheaper because there have been lean years in the agricultural sector.
European farmers go from a subsistence economy to specialized crops, to try to lower production costs, but thousands of farmers are in ruins; they leave the countryside, have half the cities or migrate to other countries.
Wages are lowered; the crisis continues to bite its tail.
Income contracts with one imposed speed, the general price level with another, there is not enough money to recover a good level of demand, the supply remains too high, it cannot go too far beyond what was spent to create it.
If it does it produces bankruptcy, increases in layoffs, further decrease in wages.
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes calls the description of this phenomenon with the phrase Aggregate Demand and the curve that shows the demand for goods and services in reduction to an increase in the values on the ordinates, that is, in the event that there is an increase in prices they call it the Marshall curve.
While economists trace their Cartesian axes, cities fill up, the countryside changes, in the social order and in the distribution of work; crops change.
The raw material for survival is no longer produced, the thread with agriculture and overseas goods becomes double delivery; market sharing is irreversible; money has become the new god, capital has become the new devil.
If Australia and Argentina join the United States in terms of agricultural production, it is also true that Japan, Russia and Italy advance to the level of countries with great production capacity, namely Great Britain, Belgium, France.
If for Russia the cultural impact with the rest of Europe occurs in a preponderant way on a literary level.
If the entry of Italy into the markets has not shaken, in fact the artistic culture of the peninsula had already blinded to the rest of Europe thanks for example to the educational trips of the painters who came to Italy to study the great masters and through the great composers .
Undoubtedly the Japanese case is separate .
Japan has opened up to the West since 1850, after secular isolation; the extraordinary novelty of its culture and its art has determined in Europe a real cultural phenomenon called japonisme or japanesery with influences on the two-dimensional decorations received by the study of the artists of the Edo period.
It would seem that Japan has made space first with its fascinating tradition then with its goods and has become competitive to the extent that it has been blended by the artists with the culture of the European states.
Speaking again of great powers in Europe, it is good to remember that Germany had reorganized its steel production starting a couple of years before the beginning of the crisis, when it won the Franco Prussian war in 1871; and that on the chessboard is the strongest piece together with the United States of America.
The situation at the end of the twenty years of crisis (1873-1895) will no longer see things realign themselves with the old economic model .
After the crisis has been digested, people start to feel a new need, that of mediatization .
The urbanization was truly considerable; coexistence spaces have shrunk; the way of living has changed, socialization has new implications; there is a new balance with which one must learn to balance .
A new way of thinking faces the scenario of philosophy, as well as art.
You begin to feel the need to find the boundaries of your body; the body is continuously in the foreground in the streets, in the meeting places, in the world full of cities.
Sexuality and eroticism become obsessive like never before.
The models consist of the citizens and state institutions , they have not kept pace, impose a conformity that can no longer be realized, which belongs entirely to a past that no longer exists.
We have the first notice with the Impressionists; they are so obscene; shocking to the bourgeois.
Egon Schiele is in Vienna in 1909; I like to imagine him sitting on the pile of rubble that the economic crisis has left behind .
And it needs credible models; consistent with the reality in which it participates.
He finds them in public meeting places; with the artists of the Viennese Succession, Gustav Klimt is his favorite and it will be mutual.
Egon made his debut in 1908 for the Wiener Werkstätte movement of 1903 according to which art has implications for everyday life, has a spiritual and practical importance.
Schiele and Klimt work as artists side by side for some time.
With an interval in which Egon traveled to Bohemia, lived in a town not far from the Austrian capital, was in prison, then came 1915 and Egon left for the Great War front.
I hope those two said goodbye that day before Egon left; they called him to serve for the country.
1918, Egon and Paul
Egon Schiele is twenty eight when rings the last bell for him.
It wasn’t the war.
Spanish flu has tens of millions of deaths worldwide; one of these is Egon Schiele.
And another is Edith Harms his wife, she had been his beloved before marrying him, like the other two models he had had before her, she was six months pregnant when the Spanish flu took her away.
Three days have passed since the death of Edith and her son in her belly; then Egon dies.
The calendar marks October 31st, 1918; Egon had returned from the war in April.
For this premature death, he is often taken as a model for the cliché of the misunderstood artist.
One could say that he had just come to life when fate took him away.
In 1918 Paul Klee is 39 years old and that is the year in which he writes the essay entitled The creative confession .
They had called him back in 1916 to serve.
The essay published it in 1920 , when he started teaching for Walter Gropius, his first consecration as an artist came the previous year, in 1919 ; at forty.
With work at school he becomes the soul of the Bauhaus; it happens because he is a true artist.
And because through teaching he has the opportunity to formalize his art. Think, prepare lessons, explain some things to yourself.
For example, the use of color, of which he says it was appropriate in 1914, with the trip to Tunis and Hammamet.
Teaching is something from which it benefits and inspiration.
His pupils call him the Buddha.
As he prepares the lessons, a few things he thought about marginally are clarified, he has a way to reflect.
Then he moved on to the Düsseldorf Academy.
In 1933 the unfortunate advent of national socialism.
Due to the Nazi totalitarian regime he is forced to leave teaching; his art is labeled “degenerate art”.
The Shoah is underway and Paul Klee along with his art is one of the victims of censorship and reform based on Nazi ideology.
Swiss citizenship will be granted only posthumously, however in Zurich where he died on June 29th, 1940, in that year in 1940 he held his own staff, at the Kunsthaus with 213 works of the last 5 years, he continued to paint despite scleroderma .
I like to remember his philosophy about him, art does not reproduce reality, it makes it visible .
Francis Bacon, $ 142.4 million
By Francis Bacon instead of his paintings, one of which sold in 2013 for 142.4 million dollars from Christie’s in New York, I like to remember the fact that he was homosexual and that when he was homosexual in London, in the early 1920s, homosexuality was prohibited; it was a crime.
Then I like to remember that after living several years in Paris studying Cubism and Picasso, he returned to Great Britain and started working as interior designer for Douglas Cooper one of the greatest collectors of modern English art of the time.
Insects and bats
Because just as I think there was a dual relationship between Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele; one becomes a bat when the other turns into a butterfly and the light of the lamppost existed in their reciprocity.
I believe that for Paul Klee the light of the lamppost was art, and that he himself was both butterfly and bat alternately.
Then I believe that Francis Bacon is himself the bat of his paintings that arrives in flight by nobody knows where, on the butterflies that approach art.
End of the carousel; the gate of the Ferris wheel seat rises; also place the gifts you have chosen during your Around the World on the floor; welcome back to the ground and good wind at the next exit.
On Marc Chagall I wrote National Marc Chagall and the story of Marc Chagal
Italian readers go to the next page, please
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