WTF Art History

10 Times When Egon Schiele Mastered Hip Hop Hand Gestures

Zuzanna Stańska 12 August 2023 min Read

Art is a serious thing. But sometimes some associations once they pop up in your head just can’t disappear. I didn’t find any scientific evidence for it but when you look at Egon Schiele’s portraits and self-portraits it seems he had some kind of a hand fetish.

It is a recurring theme in the portraits of Egon Schiele. The subject’s fingers are painted or drawn long in all kinds of open, twisted and strange symbolic gestures. Schiele’s hands and fingers are dislocated and unnatural. Often they are larger than the natural ones. Every knuckle and every joint are exaggerated and carefully articulated.

You probably know this gesture:

The Rapper 2Pac showing "West Coast" sign
Rapper Tupac showing a “West Coast” sign. Pinterest.

In hip-hop culture, this “W” signifies alliance with the West Coast, in contradiction to the East Coast hip-hop scene.

Here are 10 times when Egon Schiele painted, drew or posed in a photograph with this or similar gesture.

1. Self-Portrait as St. Sebastian

Egon Schiele, Self-portrait as St. Sebastian, 1914, private collection
Egon Schiele, Self-portrait as St. Sebastian, 1914, private collection. WikiArt.

2. The Poet (Self-Portrait)

Egon Schiele, The Lyricist (Self-Portrait), 1911, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria.

3. Mime van Osen

Egon Schiele, Mime van Osen, 1910, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria.

4. Self-Portrait with Peacock Waistcoat

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Peacock Waistcoat, 1911, Lower Austria State Gallery, Krems an der Donau, Austria.

5. Self-Portrait with Lowered Head

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Lowered Head, 1912, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria.

6. Self-Portrait with Folded Hands

Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Folded Hands, ©Sotheby's Picture Library
Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Folded Hands, private collection. Artnet.

7. Gustav Klimt

Egon Schiele, Portrait of Gustav Klimt, 1913, private collection. Photograph by Mefusbren69 via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

8. The Hand

Egon Schiele, The Hand, private collection
Egon Schiele, The Hand, private collection. Christie’s.

9. Photographic Self-Portrait with Eyes Closed

Egon Schiele, Photographic self-portrait with eyes closed, 1914. Oscar en Photos.

10. Another Photographic Portrait

Egon Schiele,1914. Photograph by Anton Josef Trčka, Albertina Museum
Anton Josef Trčka, Egon Schiele, 1914, Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria.

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