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


September 14, 1993 - November 6, 1993


Arntz, Gerd

Barlach, Ernst

Bayer, Herbert

Beckmann, Max

Dix, Otto

Dressler, August Wilhelm

Felixmüller, Conrad

Griebel, Otto

Grosz, George

Grundig, Lea

Heartfield, John

Höch, Hannah

Hubbuch, Karl

Kollwitz, Käthe

Meidner, Ludwig

Overbeck-Schenk, Gerta

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Schad, Christian



The period between the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918 and Adolf Hitler’s seizure of power in January 1933 was one of great creative ferment in Germany. Expressionsim, which dominated the German avant garde before World War I, survived into the early 1920s. The Dada movement, founded in 1916 by a group of expatriot artists disgusted with the war effort, brought its free-form iconoclasm to bear on the postwar German political situation. Dire social and ecomomic circumstances seemed to demand a more pragmatic and realistic aesthetic, and by 1925 the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) was widely hailed as the principal mode of the decade. However, German artists in the 1920s were united less by a single style than by their overriding concern with humanitarian themes: this was one of the few phases of modern art that valued content above form. Today, when contemporary artistis are again turning to overtly political subjects, a look back at Weimar Germany offers a useful object lesson about the capabilities and limitations of socially motivated art.


Prior to 1914, Expressionism was essentially apolitical. Its partisans considered themselves aesthetic revolutionaries but harbored no allegiance to a broader social revolution, beyond a vague disdain for the Philistine bourgeoisie. The Expressionists’ attempt to attain spiritual enlightenment through art was largely inner-directed. They banded together in small factions to protect their creative autonomy against the diluting impact of an often hostile majority, rather than out of any communal impulse. World War I, in which many artists fought and not a few died, accustomed its participants to group activity and created a body of shared experience. The patriotic fervor rampant in the early months of the war faded as battlefield horrors were compounded by the shocking incompetance and corruption of the military establishment. The war in effect taught artists to collaborate and encouraged them to question authority.


In the heady days following the 1918 revolution, it was easy for the Expressionists to imagine that the new age they had courted was at last dawning, and to turn their formerly internal quest outward. Many now tacitly assumed that there was, after all, a connection between radical art and radical politics, and that their inchoate hatred of the bourgeoisie had legitimate class roots. Identifying themselves with the proletariat and taking their cue from the recently founded Russian socialist state, artists felt a duty to offer guidance and inspiration to the masses. Many participated in the flurry of activity preceding the first general elections, scheduled for January 1919, which officially established the new republic’s Constituent Assembly in the town of Weimar. Three major artists’ coalitions--the Novembergruppe (November Group) and Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Worker’s Council for Art) in Berlin, and the Dresdener Sezession--Gruppe 19 in Dresden--were formed during this period with the purpose of shaping future cultural policy.


The myriad posters that were plastered all over Germany in the weeks preceding the 1919 elections vividly illustrate the volatile forces that were vying for command of the country. Controlled by moderate socialists, the provisional government had to contend not only with paranoid anti-Bolshevik hectoring from the right, but also with pressure from the more radical communists in their midst, who hoped to establish a soviet system similar to that of their Russian comrades. The posters commissioned by the Werbedienst (Publicity Office) of the interim regime--designed by Novembergruppe artists such as Heinz Fuchs, Cesar Klein, Max Pechstein and Georg Tappert--were principally intended to restore order: to get out the vote and to put an end to the strikes and armed skirmishes that were to become a recurring feature of the Weimar era.


The faith which artists had placed in the infant republic soon proved to be hopelessly idealistic, as did their goal of rousing the masses through revolutionary art. The masses did not, as it turned out, understand the avant-garde posters: they found them comical or worse still, personally insulting. Despite the artists’ anti-bourgeois posturing, the proletariat readily recognized them as members of an alien cultural elite. Those who hoped that the new regime would provide more artistic freedom than its predecessor were soon disappointed, and artists such as George Grosz were repeatedly dragged into court for various offenses against propriety. Establishing a pattern that was to persist and intensify in years to come, the ruling SPD (Social Democratic Party) was noticeably more hospitable to the entrenched military and industrial establishment than to the fellow socialists in the KPD (Communist Party). Both before and after the 1919 elections, uprisings by the left were brutally suppressed by the Freicorps (Free Corps), a right-wing paramilitary organization supported by the governmen. A number of key leaders--most famously, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg--were murdered. Disillusioned, many artists retreated from organized political activity. The Arbeitsrat disbanded in 1921 and the Dredener Sezession in 1925. While the Novembergruppe lingered on until the 1930s, it had lost its political edge by 1922.


Far from offering a panacea for the world’s ills, the new Germany presented a compendium of its worst failings, which were dutifully catalogued by the nation’s many artists. As unemployment and inflation skyrocketed, the streets grew crowded with beggars and crippled war veterans, who served as inescapable reminders of society’s inequities. The war itself, as depicted by Otto Dix, was a metaphor for the moral and spiritual debasement of humankind. The parameters of personal interaction had seemingly been reduced to murder and rape (or most tellingly, a combination of the two), and prostitution became emblematic of an age which viewed everything as a commodity. The betrayal of the masses by the wealthy elite who profited from their suffering was a particular obsession of George Grosz, who was inspired by a modern-dress performance of Schiller’s classic play Die Räuber (The Robbers) to pen a pictorial discourse on capitalist corruption.


German artists in the 1920s were motivated by a combined desire for objective reportage and effective communication. The Neue Sachlichkeit, as much an attitude as a style, describes both the biting caricatures of Grosz and the sort of slick “magic realism” popular later inthe decade. Disdaining the capitalist marketplace traditionally served by exhibitions, artists sought to reach a wider audience through prints, broadsheets and illustrated journals.