Egon Schiele was born in Austria on the 12th of June, 1890. He passed away at 28yrs in 1918, 3 days after his pregnant wife, both having succumbed to the Spanish Flu Pandemic, or influenza, that killed over 20 million people at that time. He made a powerful statement in the world of art during his short and volatile life. His expressionist works were controversial because of his tendency to exploit women, very young women and their sexuality. He often depicted himself with nude self-portraits, abstract like with the contours of his body, it would seem his anxiety was being expressed through a distorted view of himself. Although Woman with Long Hair isn't as explicit as his other paintings, mostly of nude or semi-nude women that would usually portray their sexuality, there is something very sensual and mysterious about this particular painting from 1911.
She's maybe wearing the 'typical' black stockings that are in most of the paintings he did of women, but we cannot be sure as the artist does not feature detail other than around her face and upper body. She is in somewhat of a provocative pose. Her long hair covers her body, so is the woman with long hair daring him or making a stance? Schiele was somewhat of a poet. He had contradictory feelings and words, as with 'everything is lively, dead'. Perhaps the woman with long hair is a paradox of what he really felt. His short and bizarre life has been scrutinised by students who have written essays about him. A novel called Arrogance was written about him by Joanna Scott. Songs and music based on his life have been written and performed on stage by a theatrical dance production based on his life and character. A movie was made of his life called Excess and Punishment. His works have been sold worldwide for millions of USD's, English pounds and Euros.
It is likely today that although art itself is far more free and open, some of the relationships that Schiele had would bring him into trouble, perhaps even more so than they did then. All individuals should be judged by the society of the time, rather than before or after, as we are all heavily influenced by what we consider to be acceptable behaviour as we see in others. That said, without this edgy behaviour he would certainly not have been quite the same artist and several other notable painters have also been linked to similar types of relationships, though often without much firm evidence. Today he is rightly considered both an excellent and creative artist, but also a sometimes troubled figure who was not always a great influence on those around him.