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Art theory, calligraphy, literary flamboyance, and a hymn to creativity: Schiele’s letter dated 17 July 1911 to be auctioned at Dorotheum on 26 November 2019

“There is no such thing as modern art; there is only one kind of art and it is perpetual.” This legendary introductory sentence, which was to be published in a slightly modified form three years later in the manifesto “Die Kunst – der Neukünstler”, is how Egon Schiele opens his furious invocation of genius, subjectivity and the absolute freedom of the artist and art.
The sentence originates from Schiele’s four-page art manifesto, which Dorotheum will offer for sale at its “Modern Art” auction on 26 November 2019. The estimated value is 20,000 to 40,000 euros.

At the age of just 21, Schiele had already found his own expressionist pictorial language. Writing to an unknown addressee, his words become a manifesto of the creativity and divinity of art: “You cannot look at a work of art: you can only look into it, and few have the necessary gift for that, thank God. Of course, the masses are irrelevant for a work of art; only great men matter. A great man always leads the crowd. The real work of art is the revelation of the artist’s special nature, the object is unimportant, it is immortal [...] The divinity of great art becomes more and more invisible because people think that the masses can judge it [...] The artist must judge himself, a different person cannot be a judge of this at all: they are too small to do so! Only a greater person could issue a judgement, or, in other words, they must be a greater artist.”

The calligraphic, strictly stylised writing offers us unparalleled, deep insights into the psyche of Egon Schiele and reveals how he saw himself as a man and artist.

Auction date 
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Viewing from 16 November 2019
Venue Palais Dorotheum, 1010 Vienna, Dorotheergasse 17
Specialist Andreas Löbbecke, tle. +43-1-515 60-389,


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