Galerie St. Etienne Ξ A preeminent scholar of Egon Schiele, Jane Kallir and the co-director at Galerie St. Etienne is an author of many essays and books on Egon Schiele and Austrian Expressionism. One of the key players in the repatriation efforts of Schiele’s famous work The Portrait of Wally, Jane Kallir is a renowned Schiele scholar and an author of the Catalogue Raisoneé.
In this interview Jane Kallir talks about “Seers” – a double self-portrait of the artist and his girlfriend Valerie (Wally) Neuzill, whom the artist met in 1911 when she was 17. The watercolor reads almost monochromatic but for the bold cape-like field of orange-crimson behind the left figure. Schiele’s concept of sight as the artist’s primary tool of creation as well as the allegorical meaning of seeing are both explored in this work.
Jane Kallir: This is called “Seers” and what you see here is a double self-portraits of the artist – Egon Schiele and his girlfriend at the time Wally Neuzil.
The whole idea of sight and vision, the idea of being a visionary, but also the idea of vision or eye sight… Schiele played a lot on those meanings in his work and he did, absolutely, see himself as a visionary, as a priest-like or saint-like, or prophet-like figure. He felt that the artist’s role is to provide that kind of spiritual enlightenment and particularly in the year that he did this watercolor he was embarked on a series of allegorical paintings that were dealing with that theme.
Schiele’s treatment of women, for his day, is very, very advanced and very forward-looking, and I find it significant that Wally is anointed here as one of the three seers. So in other words she, as his model, is not just an objectified sexy body, and she is not just his muse. She is his partner. She is his equal in this work and I think you see that a lot in the autonomy with which Schiele again, and again, and again endows his female subjects.
This article and video interview © galleryIntell 2012. Images courtesy of Galerie St. Etienne.
Jane Kallir is the author of “Egon Schiele’s Women”. Read our review of the book.