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Otto Dix

Three Prostitutes on the Street. 1925. Tempera on plywood. Private Collection.

EXHIBITIONS (*INDICATES SOLO EXHIBITION)

IFPDA Print Fair 2016

November 3, 2016 - November 6, 2016


IFPDA Print Fair 2016

November 3, 2016 - November 6, 2016


IFPDA Print Fair 2015

November 4, 2015 - November 8, 2015


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015


Recent Acquisitions

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015


Art Basel 2015

June 17, 2015 - June 21, 2015


ADAA Art Show 2015

March 3, 2015 - March 8, 2015


IFPDA Print Fair 2014

November 5, 2014 - November 9, 2014


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014


Art Basel 2014

June 19, 2014 - June 22, 2014


Modern Furies

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014


Modern Furies

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014


IFPDA Print Fair 2013

November 6, 2013 - November 12, 2013


Art Basel 2013

Galerie St. Etienne, Hall 2.0, Booth D11

June 13, 2013 - June 16, 2013


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


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 24, 2008 - September 26, 2008


Transforming Reality

Pattern and Design in Modern and Self-Taught Art

January 15, 2008 - March 8, 2008


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


Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

June 7, 2005 - September 9, 2005


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


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


The Modern Child

(Images of Children in Twentieth-Century Art)

September 14, 1999 - November 6, 1999


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998


Taboo

Repression and Revolt in Modern Art

March 26, 1998 - May 30, 1998


Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998


The New Objectivity

Realism in Weimar-Era Germany

September 16, 1997 - November 8, 1997


Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997


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


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


Scandal, Outrage, Censorship

Controversy in Modern Art

January 21, 1992 - March 7, 1992


The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991


The Narrative in Art

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990


Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985


Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985


THE EXPRESSIONIST FIGURE

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991

ARTISTS

Barlach, Ernst

Beckmann, Max

Corinth, Lovis

Dix, Otto

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Nolde, Emil

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Rohlfs, Christian

Schiele, Egon

 

ESSAY

All exhibitions are, by definition, collections of works of art, and most, by implication, are also subliminally about collecting. The present exhibition (the highlights of which are drawn from a single source) is both an anatomy of a collection, and an examination of a central aspect of Expressionism. These two themes are, in fact, inextricably linked, for true collecting is not the mindless accumulation of trophies, but rather requires a commitment of time, passion and a profound understanding of the art in question.

 

Scholars may argue over the proper definition of Expressionism, but most would agree that the figure is central to the evaluation of the genre, and therefore to any meaningful collection of it. Landscape and still life, by comparison, are less directly evocative of the human condition and therefore generally must rely on analogy to convey their expressive content. It is in their figural works that the Expressionists achieved their most revolutionary and emotionally powerful statements, and that the movement as a whole is quintessentially encapsulated.

 

Forming a foundation for figurative Expressionism was a narrative tradition based in academic history and genre painting. This tradition acquired new immediacy and heightened contemporaneity in the hands of Expressionist precursors like Ernst Barlach, Lovis Corinth and Käthe Kollwitz. Whether the narrative was specifically historical (as in Kollwitz's moving studies of rebellious peasants), literary (as in Barlach's picture stories Der Armer Vetter, Der Findlin and Walpurgisnach) or allegorical (as in the Dance of Death, a medieval subject that fascinated Corinth and others of his era), the works were distinguished by an ever increasing tendency to focus on the figure (rather than the setting or scenario) as the primary bearer of content. This drive to concentrate meaning in an emblematic individual gave the portraits of such artists as Corinth special significance in paving the way for Expressionism proper. As the subject's personality began to assume more importance than his or her specific identity, the figure became a surrogate for a broad range of human emotions and experiences. Generic "Everyman" or "Everywoman"characters predominate in the narratives of the full-fledged Expressionists Max Beckmann, Erich Heckel, Lyonel Feininger and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, all of whom found expanded meaning in simple scenes from daily life.

 

Nevertheless, it can be argued that in the purest Expressionist works the figure appears unencumbered by the trappings of narrative or mundane context. From this perspective, Egon Schiele--though living outside the central German orbit--might qualify as the ultimate Expressionist, for few artists have explored as intensely as he the expressive capabilities of the human body. In terms of subject matter and perfection of execution, Nude with Red Garters is the prototypical Schiele, a riveting personification of adolescent sexuality and insecurity. It was Schiele's willingness to confront the emotional core of his subjects, as well as his models' exquisitely distorted poses (which reach something of a high point in Woman With Raised Skirt), that enabled his work to transcend the conventions of the academic nude.

 

Self-portraits occupy a special place in the Expressionist canon, for here introspection merges with the more objective projection of an emblematic persona. In this regard, Schiele's Dark Suit, Hat with Wide Band (one of a handful of similar studies presumably done for the Wiener Werkstätte) merits particular attention, for it is both a probing self-portrait and an iconic fashion plate. This dualism--the ability to be both object and subject--is a key to Schiele's self-portraits, as is his chameleon-like role-playing and his dandified self-image (he designed much of his own clothing). While Expressionist self-portraits offer an unrivalled glimpse into the inner workings of the artist's mind, they are also inevitably tinged with an element of artifice.

 

The exploration of self is so central to Expressionism that occasionally the boundaries between self-portraiture and portraiture blur, and more than one Expressionist has been accused of confusing his sitter's physiognomy with his own. This is, of course, a particular temptation when the subject is of the same sex as the artist, and more easily avoided when the sitter is of the opposite sex. The female portrait, requiring greater effort and empathy, posed something of a challenge to male Expressionists, and Schiele, for one, created his most sensitive portraits of women only after marriage had permitted him to develop deeper insight into the feminine psyche. Oskar Kokoschka, early in his career, employed an abrasive style that many women found alienating, and his increasing turn to female portraiture after World War I was as much a result of changing attitudes toward women (who no longer had to be portrayed as decorative baubles, in the manner of Gustav Klimt) as of the artist's more fluid and sympathetic technique. Otto Dix, a scathing social critic whose career reached its height in the period between the two world wars, felt no obligation to spare women from the probing thrust of his brush. His stunning depiction of a procuress is at once a minutely accurate portrayal of a particular personality and a symbolic indictment of Weimar Republic sexual mores.

 

Ultimately, it is the Expressionists' ability to move effortlessly from the personal to the general, the specific to the universal, that gives their figural works such commanding presence. These are not and have never been easy pieces, and because Expressionism has thus been largely immune to momentary fads and the lure of quick financial gain, the field has remained relatively stable, even in the current environment. Now that the speculative energy which fueled the art market in the late 1980s appears finally to have evaporated, it is both appropriate and necessary to concentrate on the fundamentals of collecting. Ultimately, it is these fundamentals that have always sustained--and will continue to sustain--the art market.