Max Beckmann

The Voyage. 1944. Oil on canvas. Private Collection.


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 11, 2017 - October 13, 2017

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014

Modern Furies

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014

Face Time

Self and Identity in Expressionist Portraiture

April 9, 2013 - June 28, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 17, 2012 - October 13, 2012

The Lady and the Tramp

Images of Women in Austrian and German Art

October 11, 2011 - December 30, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 5, 2011 - September 30, 2011

Decadence & Decay

Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz

April 12, 2011 - June 24, 2011

* Marie-Louise Motesiczky

Paradise Lost & Found

October 12, 2010 - December 30, 2010

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 13, 2010 - October 1, 2010

From Brücke To Bauhaus

The Meanings of Modernity in Germany, 1905-1933

March 31, 2009 - June 26, 2009

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 5, 2007 - September 28, 2007

More Than Coffee was Served

Café Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Weimar Germany

September 19, 2006 - November 25, 2006

* Coming of Age

Egon Schiele and the Modernist Culture of Youth

November 15, 2005 - January 7, 2006

Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

June 7, 2005 - September 9, 2005

Every Picture Tells a Story

The Narrative Impulse in Modern and Contemporary Art

April 5, 2005 - May 27, 2005

Sue Coe: Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round and Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 8, 2004 - October 16, 2004

Body and Soul

Expressionism and the Human Figure

October 7, 2003 - January 3, 2004

The "Black-and-White" Show

Expressionist Graphics in Austria & Germany

September 20, 2001 - November 10, 2001

Recent Acquisitions (And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 26, 2001 - September 7, 2001

The Tragedy of War

November 16, 2000 - January 6, 2001

The Expressionist City

September 19, 2000 - November 4, 2000

Recent Acquisitions (And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 20, 2000 - September 8, 2000

Recent Acquisitions

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998

Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997

That Way Madness Lies

Expressionism and the Art of Gugging

January 14, 1997 - March 15, 1997

Breaking All The Rules

Art in Transition

June 11, 1996 - September 6, 1996

The Fractured Form

Expressionism and the Human Body

November 15, 1995 - January 6, 1996

From Left to Right

Social Realism in Germany and Russia, Circa 1919-1933

September 19, 1995 - November 4, 1995

Recent Acquisitions

June 20, 1995 - September 8, 1995

On the Brink 1900-2000

The Turning of Two Centuries

March 28, 1995 - May 26, 1995

55th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Otto Kallir

June 7, 1994 - September 2, 1994

Art and Politics in Weimar Germany

September 14, 1993 - November 6, 1993

The Dance of Death

Images of Mortality in German Art

January 19, 1993 - March 13, 1993

The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991

The Narrative in Art

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990

Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 1986

Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985

Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940

* Max Beckmann

March 28, 1925


Expressionist Graphics in Austria & Germany

September 20, 2001 - November 10, 2001


Barlach, Ernst

Beckmann, Max

Campendonk, Heinrich

Corinth, Lovis

Dix, Otto

Feininger, Lyonel

Heckel, Erich

Jansen, Franz M.

Kandinsky, Vasily

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Klinger, Max

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Kubin, Alfred

Kurzweil, Maximillian

Liebermann, Max

Modersohn-Becker, Paula

Mueller, Otto

Nolde, Emil

Orlik, Emil

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Schaefler, Fritz

Schiele, Egon

Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl

Vogeler, Heinrich



The present exhibition takes its subject from the Schwarz-Weiss Ausstellung (Black-and-White Exhibition), a staple of the German and Austrian art scene in the early decades of the twentieth century. Many more recent exhibitions and studies have highlighted the centrality of printmaking to Expressionism, but the Schwarz-Weiss Ausstellung differed from these comparatively academic efforts in that it had a broader sweep and enjoyed greater input from the artists themselves. In its original incarnation, the "Black-and-White Show" usually included drawings as well as prints and, despite its name, comprised colored as well as monochromatic works. While these presentations were endemic to Germany and Austria, their content was not necessarily confined to local contributions. The "International Black-and-White Exhibition" was a cost-effective way to import an array of foreign art, as well as a means of demonstrating the transnational camaraderie that characterized modernism before World War I. A Schwarz-Weiss Ausstellung did not focus on a specific style, nationality or medium, but rather on the aesthetic qualities peculiar to line and graphic expression. By endeavoring to elevate the graphic arts to the stature enjoyed by painting and sculpture, these exhibitions helped legitimize printmaking and may be held partly responsible for the preeminence enjoyed by graphics within the Expressionist canon.


In mid-nineteenth-century Germany, printmaking flourished as a means of mechanical reproduction but was almost never viewed as a creative medium by fine artists. Etching societies, which proliferated in England in the 1860s and subsequently became popular in Germany, helped to gradually undermine this prejudice. However, the turning point in the evolution of German printmaking came with Max Klinger, the first major artist in several generations to etch and proof his own plates. Not only were Klinger's print cycles, such as A Glove, Dramas and A Life, models of their kind, they illustrated a creative philosophy that was to reverberate among artists for decades to come. In his seminal 1891 treatise, Malerei und Zeichnung (Painting and Drawing), Klinger argued for the unique role--separate but equal--of drawing and graphic expression among the various arts. Painting and color are suited to the replication of observed reality, he wrote, while drawing and printmaking are best reserved for fantasy and ideas. Painting, in this view, was almost vulgar, leaving nothing to the imagination, while black-and-white art allowed access to a much wider realm of thoughts and feelings. Klinger's theories in essence paved the way for the Expressionists' wholesale restructuring of artistic goals, sanctioning an expanded agenda that could range from the intensely personal to the overtly political. It is probably no coincidence that many Expressionists evolved their formal vocabulary first through printmaking, and only later applied these lessons to painting.


In one fell swoop, Klinger freed drawing from its former subservience to painting, and printmaking from the limitations of rote reproduction. His own work, though hardly revolutionary by present-day standards, proved extremely influential. Klinger's aesthetic hovered somewhere between the nineteenth century and the twentieth. Modern in content but academic in execution, his etching cycles tended to focus on elaborate narratives depicted in meticulously detailed representational settings. Käthe Kollwitz was inspired by these works to craft her socio-political print series, The Revolt of the Weavers and Peasants' War, while Alfred Kubin and others saw Klinger as a stepping-stone toward Surrealism. Both Kollwitz and Kubin, in their earliest works, approximated Klinger's narrative approach, which seduced the audience into accepting the artist's views by presenting them in the guise of a shared reality.


Where Klinger encouraged artists to craft alternate realities that served their particular visions, his followers would eventually invent an entirely new, abstract formal language more directly in sync with their expressive goals. Carrying Klinger's theories beyond the realm of mere content, artists began to investigate the graphic qualities intrinsic to each of the printmaking mediums. Klinger and Kollwitz had exploited the multitude of etching techniques designed to replicate light and shade and volume, but later artists were drawn to drypoint, a medium that allowed for far greater immediacy at the expense of tonal range. Even more so than drypoint, lithography could duplicate with breathtaking fidelity the spontaneity of an artist's drawing. But the signature printmaking medium of the Expressionist generation was woodcut. Revived in the 1890s by artists like Aubrey Beardsley and Felix Valloton, the art of woodblock printing was furthered by the contemporaneous interest in Japanese prints and the flat graphic style prevalent during the Art Nouveau period. However, the key influence in Germany was Edvard Munch, the first artist to directly incorporate the tactile qualities of wood into his prints.


By the turn of the twentieth century, a decisive rift had developed between the conventional forces of academia and the still inchoate modern movement. This rift manifested itself in periodic art-world scandals and found organizational acknowledgment in the Secession movements that sprouted throughout Germany and Austria in the 1890s. The Secessions' leaders were members of a transitional generation: artists like Lovis Corinth, Gustav Klimt, Max Liebermann and Carl Moll, who were not capable of altogether severing their ties to the academic traditions which had nurtured them in their youths. Nonetheless, by routinely exhibiting foreign modernism, the Secessionists established an international network for the exchange of new ideas that helped prepare the ground for Expressionism.


Graphics featured prominently in the Secessionist agenda, particularly in Berlin, where an annual "Black-and-White Exhibition" was held every winter. As business manager of the Berlin Secession, the dealer Paul Cassirer played a pivotal role in capitalizing and expanding upon the burgeoning interest in prints. In 1908, he brought over a group of master printers from Paris and established his own publishing enterprise, the Pan-Presse. Cassirer encouraged a number of artists to make lithographs and etchings, including Ernst Barlach, Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth and Max Liebermann. Some of these, like Corinth and Liebermann, had earlier tried their hands at printmaking with no success, while Barlach, who would become one of the great printmakers of the Expressionist era, had never before even considered lithography.


Expressionism ultimately emerged without the benefit of backing from the Secessions or any other formal institution. In fact, it was just as the most advanced artists were leaving the Vienna Secession, in 1905, that Germany spawned its first full-fledged modernist cell, the Brücke (Bridge) group. As was typical of such groups, membership shifted over time, but the Brücke's core included Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. These artists, initially based in Dresden, were up on all the latest foreign trends, and they embraced an amalgam of influences that encompassed the work of Gauguin, Van Gogh and the Fauves, as well as African and Melanesian art. Eschewing the meticulous craftsmanship and finish of their academic forebears, the Brücke artists sought an immediacy of effect that naturally gave pride of place to drawing and printmaking.


Perhaps because many of its members were essentially self-taught, the Brücke blithely ignored generations of technical tradition and essentially reinvented the arts of etching, lithography and woodcut. The artists' direct involvement, not just with the creation of the plate, stone or block, but with the printing process itself, was so intense and personal that often no two prints from the same edition looked exactly alike. The group's total output was prodigious: Heckel, for example, produced more than 1,000 prints, Pechstein 805, and Kirchner over 2,000. Printmaking was also used to great promotional effect by the Brücke, which circulated more than 50 traveling exhibitions featuring graphics, and solicited support from "passive" members, who were rewarded with an annual print portfolio.


Printmaking was less crucial to the Blauer Reiter (Blue Rider), Germany's other principal Expressionist group. The Blauer Reiter, which counted among its followers Lyonel Feininger, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Alfred Kubin, August Macke, Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter, was shorter lived and less cohesive than the Brücke. Of the various members, Feininger, Kandinsky and Kubin produced the most substantive print oeuvres, the latter two for the most part long after they had severed any formal ties to Expressionism. Still, it is noteworthy that the Blauer Reiter's second public show, held at the Galerie Goltz in Munich in 1912, was a Schwarz-Weiss Ausstellung. A survey of over 300 Expressionist prints, watercolors and drawings, it included works by many artists beyond the limited circle of the Blauer Reiter, and summarized, as it were, the state of the art at that historical moment.


At this time, the term "Expressionist," when it was used at all, often encompassed both foreign and domestic art. Marc made it clear in the Blauer Reiter's famous "Almanac" that he considered himself and his comrades counterparts to the French Fauves (dubbed "Wilden" in German). While the drive to create a new type of art might momentarily coalesce in groups such as the Brücke or the Blauer Reiter, the underlying impulse was ultimately too unruly and too widespread to be constrained for long in that manner. In Austria, there never were any particularly effective formal groups associated with Expressionism. Egon Schiele tried in vain to unite his jealous and back-stabbing colleagues, while Oskar Kokoschka quickly embarked for the friendlier environment of Berlin, where he found succor with Herwarth Walden's Sturm gallery. Thus Expressionism, in the period prior to World War I, had neither a cohesive identity nor a generally

accepted name.


Even before the war, the Austrian and German avant-garde had periodically been assaulted by nationalistic attacks. Where some saw the Secessions' promotion of foreign art as beneficial to domestic production, others whined that these exhibitions sullied the nation's artistic integrity. The move to define and defend Expressionism as a distinctly Germanic style grew out of such critiques. Some printmakers justified their efforts by allying themselves with Dürer and the native Gothic tradition, invoking a mystical German reverence for wood. Arguments like these gathered steam after World War I, which had decisively shattered all illusions of transnational European cohesion. In the catalogue of what may have been the last significant "International Black-and-White Exhibition," held in Salzburg in 1921, a hope was expressed that art could somehow heal the nationalistic wounds left by the war. It was not to be.


Printmaking, too, was transformed by World War I. Ironically, the inflation that hit Germany and Austria in the years immediately following the war proved a boon to print publishers, as consumers rushed to invest their nearly worthless currency in any sort of tangible property. Unfortunately for the publishers, even sold-out editions often did not meet production costs, so much had the money been devalued by the time the bills came due. The rush to publish generated an outpouring of print cycles and portfolios by such artists as Beckmann, Otto Dix and Kokoschka. In this manner, the Expressionist print went out in a blaze of glory. After currency stabilization in 1923, the print market collapsed, and many artists never returned to the medium with comparable vigor.


Other factors also contributed to the demise of the Expressionist print. In the highly politicized atmosphere of postwar Germany and Austria, Expressionism was considered to be a bourgeois affectation. Printmaking was still important as a way of delivering political messages to the masses, but the specifically individualistic, personal and tactile aspects of the Expressionist print were anathema to a new generation of artists who, like George Grosz, worked in the service of a hoped-for socialist revolution. Many Expressionists, of course, continued to produce prints in the 1920s, but some of the most successful printmakers of that era were actually members of the earlier, transitional generation. Artists like Kollwitz and Barlach perfected a direct graphic style that adapted the Expressionists' formal innovations to the presentation of the social and political themes that had always interested them and that were now at the forefront of public consciousness.


In retrospect, the goals set forth by the most ardent ideologues of the Schwarz-Weiss Ausstellung were never fully realized. Drawing did not entirely cease to be subordinate to the "higher" arts of painting and sculpture. Nor did printmaking ever altogether lose its utility as a means of reproducing works in other mediums. Not all the Expressionists, after all, had the inclination to become deeply involved with the printmaking process. Many were quite happy with transfer lithography, which allowed for the easy reproduction of ink or crayon drawings. Throughout Europe, the print came to play a hybrid role: often more fully realized than a drawing, yet freer and more spontaneous than a painting. Certainly Expressionism improved the status of drawing and printmaking, but the "Black-and-White" shows were probably most important for the manner in which they realigned medium and message, creating a new relationship between form and content that in effect set the tone for the entire modernist enterprise.


We would like to extend our grateful thanks to the colleagues and private collectors whose generous contributions made this exhibition possible. Checklist entries include catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, image dimensions are given for the prints and full dimensions for all other works.