A century on, Egon Schiele nudes still shock

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A rare British exhibition of works by Austrian artist Egon Schiele went on display in London on Thursday, many of them highly sexual and still shocking a century after they were created.

Naked save for knee-high stockings, reclining and with their legs splayed, Schiele's nudes leave little to the imagination, reminding the audience why he was arrested in 1912 for distributing immoral material. He was later cleared.

"It still is quite powerful to many people -- still people are offended," Richard Nagy, who has put on the exhibition of more than 45 drawings and watercolours at his eponymous London gallery, told AFP.

Half of the works have never been shown, coming from private collections across the world, and none of them have ever been on public display in Britain, where Schiele's work is largely absent from mainstream galleries.

Reflecting the artist's fascination the exhibition works are all of women, many of them from the street, with the exception of a few self-portraits.

"Egon Schiele. Women" runs from May 19 to June 30.

© 2011 AFP

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