My proposal for "A House for Egon Schiele" call for entries launched by ICARCH Gallery in 2011

I was always fascinated by the work of Egon Schiele, by his anxious sensuality, by his autumnal melancholia and by his revolt. A truly great artist.

In trying to imagine a pavilion dedicated to him, to be placed in Vienna, I imagined a structure that would express the dualities and complexities of the Viennese spirit.

The Schiele Pavilion that I propose can be perhaps best described by Charles Baudelaire's great poem in prose, dedicated to Franz Lizst, called Le Thyrse.

Le Thyrse by Charles Baudelaire

“What is a thyrsus? According to the moral and poetic definition, it is a sacerdotal symbol in the hands of priests or priestesses celebrating the divinity of which they are the interpreters and the servants. But physically it is only a baton, a pure baton, a hop-pole, a vine-stake, dry, hard, and straight. Around this baton, in capricious meanderings, play and frolic vine-stems and flowers, the first sinuous and fugitive, the second bent over like bells or like overturned goblets. And an astonishing glory leaps from that complexity of lines and of colors, whether tender or showy. Might one not say that the curved line and the spiral court the straight line and dance around it in mute adoration? Might one not say that all of these delicate corollas, all of these calyxes, explosions of scent and of color, perform a mystical fandango around the hieratic baton? And yet, who is the foolhardy mortal who would dare to determine whether the flowers and the vine-branches were made for the baton, or if the baton is only the pretext for displaying the beauty of the vine-branches and the flowers? The thyrsus is the representation of your astonishing duality, powerful and venerated master, dear Bacchant of mysterious and passionate Beauty. Never did a nymph inflamed by invincible Bacchus shake her thyrsus over the heads of her maddened companions with as much energy and capriciousness as you agitate your genius over the hearts of your brothers. — The baton is your will, straight, firm, and unshakeable; the flowers are your fancy promenading around your will; it is the feminine element executing around the male its marvelous pirouettes. Straight line and arabesque line, intention and expression, rigidity of the will, sinuosity of the word, unity of the end, variety of the means, all-powerful and indivisible amalgam of genius, what analyst would have the detestable courage to divide you and to separate you?” – Charles Baudelaire, Le Thyrse from Le Spleen de Paris 1869

Just as Baudelaire described so beautifully the duality of the thyrsus, I tried to honor Egon Schiele and the great city of Vienna with a structure that would have a similar duality... doing thus justice to the complexity of form and meaning present not just in Schiele's work, but in the myriad works of this great European city. A good location for this structure would be not far from the Leopold Museum, where one can find Schiele's works. I imagine this pavilion to function as both an exhibitions space and as a place for gatherings, where workshops, symposiums, etc. could be organized, both about Egon Schiele and art / culture in general. Conceptually speaking, the structure consists of a Cartesian box surrounded and supported by a thicket of closely knit metallic elements. The pavilion would be accessible by a spiral staircase that starts at the ground level.

This is my homage to Egon Schiele.

Shahira Hammad 2023