Egon Schiele Art Centre
The Egon Schiele art centre is a gallery/museum with a fascinating permanent collection and world-class temporary exhibits from artists like Dali, Chagall, Picasso and Keith Haring. Not only is it a worthy addition to your list of European galleries visited, the Schiele centre is your window into an underappreciated facet of Český Krumlov; the especially high calibre of the local artistic community.
Open all year
The centre is on Šíroka Ulice (Wide street) just a few steps from Český Krumlov’s main square. It’s open year round, 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm and admittance is 120Kč for adults and 70Kč for students and pensioners. From the street, you’ll enter a vine covered courtyard and the gallery itself is to the left through the glass doors. When you’ve paid for your entry, you’ll be admitted through a turnstile and can either work your way upstairs or take the lift and work your way back down. On the ground floor there are free lockers for anything you don’t want to carry with you.
The ground floor and the one directly above it are the huge open halls where temporary exhibits are displayed. The spaces are open, plain and painted white so as not to distract from the artworks, but there’re also some beautiful architectural details and renaissance arched ceilings on stone columns.
Nudes and prudes
Up on the top floor is the permanent exhibit about Egon Schiele’s life and work. Born in Austria in 1890, he drew and painted from an early age and became close enough to Gustav Klimt to consider him a father figure. Schiele moved to his mother’s home town, Český Krumlov in 1910 and was at first welcomed. He lived and worked there for two years, before deciding to leave due to animosity from some of the townsfolk, angry about the nude portraits of their teenage daughters. Prudish maybe, but also quite understandable once you’ve seen the sketches. Let’s just say they’re not short on anatomical detail.
Schiele’s nudes are undeniably interesting works of art, but my favourites of the paintings are the scenes and landscapes of Český Krumlov, which are displayed in a small room off to one side. There’s a big painted map on the floor in the centre of the room showing the locations depicted by the paintings and some recent photographs for comparison. A standout is the ‘Yellow House’ and I also really like the one that shows rows and rows of colourful laundry hung out to dry.
Back in the same room as the nude sketches is a detailed history of Egon Schiele’s life, including photographs of himself as a child and all the important figures in his life. Sketchbooks and the furniture from his Krumlov studio are on display. His death of Spanish influenza in Vienna in 1918 is commemorated by his framed death certificate and an unusual plaster death mask. The whole exhibit is very professionally arranged and offers a fascinating glimpse into Český Krumlov life in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Gift shop and café
There’s another space for temporary exhibitions on this upper floor and back down on the ground floor is a gallery shop and a café. The gallery store has books, posters, postcards and T-shirts for sale, and occasionally throws up some real bargains. On my last visit I bought a book for 20Kč because its cover was a little bit scuffed. Bargain.
Unfortunately I felt that the café didn’t live up to the standard of the rest of the complex. It’s a nice big space with interesting furniture and free Wi-fi internet, but there are far more pleasant cafes in Krumlov serving better coffee, cakes and food for the same price.
There’s no better gallery though!
Egon Schiele Art Centrum
381 01 Český Krumlov
Tel. 380 704011