The Body Electric: Erwin Osen and Egon Schiele, Exhibition, Leopold Museum, Vienna: 16 April-26 September 2021

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Viennese Modernist art and its close link with clinical medicine is explored in this exhibition of Egon Schiele and Erwin Osen at the Leopold Museum, Vienna.

Erwin Osen and Egon Schiele were close companions that modeled for each other and co signed the manifesto of Shiele’s Neukunstgruppe. Stefan Jellinek was a Viennese physicist and doctor who researched the use of electricity in the treatment of post-traumatic stres dissorders during WWI. The subjects of his trials were patients from the neurology department of the Garrison Hospital II on Rennweg headed by him. He commissioned Osen in many drawings, which have been recently rediscovered and are presented in the exhibition. This is alongside Schiele’s artistic depicitions of patients serve to broaden and enrich our understanding of Viennese Modernism and its art practice – an art practice that was closely linked with clinical medicine.

The Body Electric places the work of the little-known but highly mythologized artist Osen into the context of Jellinek’s electropathological research, and links it with Schiele’s interest in depicting patients. Based on the hitherto unpublished works by Osen, the exhibition shows that supposedly well-known works may be viewed in an entirely new light in the context of “clinical modernism”.

EGON SCHIELE Erwin Dominik Osen als Akt mit überkreuzten Armen, 1910 © Leopold Museum, Wien Foto: Leopold Museum, Wien/ Manfred Thumberger
EGON SCHIELE Erwin Dominik Osen als Akt mit überkreuzten Armen, 1910 © Leopold Museum, Wien Foto: Leopold Museum, Wien/ Manfred Thumberger
ERWIN DOMINIK OSEN, Patientenportrait, 1915 © Privatbesitz, Foto: Leopold Museum, Wien/Manfred Thumberger
ERWIN DOMINIK OSEN, Patientenportrait, 1915 © Privatbesitz, Foto: Leopold Museum, Wien/Manfred Thumberger

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