The nervous lines in the bodies of his young mistresses announce their future decadence but they remain alive. This anguished artist must find a means for expressing the mortality. From 1912 he uses as another theme the small town of Krumau where his mother was born. Krumau is a medieval town incompatible with the modernist and socially advanced trends of the artist. It is his Tote Stadt, even more morbid in his memories and imagination. Autumn adds its decrepitude.
Nothing happens as this idealist would have liked. The outbreak of war is perceived as a break with the past without an opening to the future. He goes to marry Edith but Wally violently refuses the household of three on which he was daydreaming. He is frustrated in his erotic desires and in the recognition of his self-proclaimed genius.
Egon is not apt for an active military service but is mobilized in an office position in June 1915 three days after marrying Edith. On June 27 in London, Christie's sells Einzelne Häuser, lot 16 estimated £ 20M. This oil on canvas 110 x 140 cm painted in the darkest moments of this summer 1915 had been sold for $ 22.5M including premium by Christie's on November 8, 2006, lot 60.
In front of an insignificant landscape structured in horizontal lines, the big house is the main character. Its gloomy texture announces an upcoming decay. It rises like a towering and outdated inquisitor in the middle of the scenery. It has already lost any trace of life.
Another masterpiece painted in the previous year on the same theme, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche, was not so completely pessimistic with its drying laundry and a few lit windows. This oil on canvas 100 x 120 cm was sold for £ 24,7M including premium by Sotheby's on June 22, 2011.