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George Grosz

Berlin Street. Circa 1926. Watercolor and ink on paper. 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


You Say You Want a Revolution

American Artists and the Communist Party

October 18, 2016 - March 4, 2017


You Say You Want a Revolution

American Artists and the Communist Party

October 18, 2016 - March 4, 2017


Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016


Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 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


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


Recent Acquisitions

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 2013


Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 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


Hope or Menace?

Communism in Germany Between the World Wars

March 25, 2008 - June 13, 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 6, 2006 - September 8, 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


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 25, 2002 - September 20, 2002


Workers of the World

Modern Images of Labor

April 2, 2002 - June 15, 2002


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

June 26, 2001 - September 7, 2001


Art with an Agenda

Politics, Persuasion, Illustration and Decoration

April 10, 2001 - June 16, 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


From Façade to Psyche

Turn-of-the-Century Portraiture in Austria & Germany

March 28, 2000 - June 10, 2000


The Modern Child

(Images of Children in Twentieth-Century Art)

September 14, 1999 - November 6, 1999


Recent Acquisitions

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999


George Grosz - Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler

Art & Gender in Weimar Germany

September 23, 1998 - November 11, 1998


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


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


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


On the Brink 1900-2000

The Turning of Two Centuries

March 28, 1995 - May 26, 1995


Art and Politics in Weimar Germany

September 14, 1993 - November 6, 1993


Recent Acquisitions

June 8, 1993 - September 3, 1993


The Dance of Death

Images of Mortality in German Art

January 19, 1993 - March 13, 1993


Naive Visions/Art Nouveau and Expressionism/Sue Coe: The Road to the White House

May 19, 1992 - September 4, 1992


Scandal, Outrage, Censorship

Controversy in Modern Art

January 21, 1992 - March 7, 1992


The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991


Recent Acquisitions

June 12, 1990 - August 31, 1990


The Narrative in Art

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990


Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 1986


Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985


Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985


THE NARRATIVE IN ART

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990

ARTISTS

Barlach, Ernst

Beckmann, Max

Coe, Sue

Corinth, Lovis

Dix, Otto

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Kubin, Alfred

Munch, Edvard

Nolde, Emil

Rouault, Georges

 

ESSAY

Narrative content and realistic verisimilitude--two of the mainstays of conventional academic art--are often considered inimical to the modernist aesthetic. Yet, as the twentieth century enters its final decade, it is abundantly evident that neither of these two characteristics has in any sense been eliminated from art. Rather it appears that modern art has seesawed back and forth between content and form. While some may credit French formalism with defining the modernist sensibility, French artists by no means eschewed content in their work. Conversely, although the German Expressionists more consciously charted the upheavals of the twentieth-century psyche, they equally shaped the modernist formal vocabulary.

 

Sue Coe is one of a number of contemporary artists whose work addresses narrative concerns--but, as the present exhibition demonstrates, similar tendencies have run throughout much art of the past decades. A turn-of-the-century renaissance in printmaking--coupled with the keen interest in beautiful books nurtured by the British Arts and Crafts movement and its various Germanic offshoots--in part abetted this pervasive interest in pictorial story-telling. Lithography, which began to flourish in the mid-nineteenth century, not only made pictures available to the public on a previously unequalled scale, but provided artists with an important new creative medium. Toward the end of the century, artists such as Felix Vallotton and Edvard Munch helped revive woodcut as an art form in its own right. Etching and drypoint, too, were increasingly favored by artists, not merely as a means of reproducing images originated in other media, but for their own intrinsic visual qualities. All the printmaking methods encouraged the production of cyclical art works that were implicitly if not explicitly narrative in orientation. Some of the resultant cycles--such as Emil Nolde's untitled series dealing with myth, religion and childhood fantasy--are only loosely interconnected, while others, like Vallotton's This is War! hew fairly closely to a cohesive theme. Many print cycles were published in book or portfolio form, with or without accompanying text.

 

Despite the demise of formal history painting, mythological, Biblical and literary subjects remained popular with modern artists. Lovis Corinth's illustrations of the Deluge and Ernst Barlach's and Oskar Laske's illustrations of Goethe are by no means anomalous within the context of twentieth-century art. Alfred Kubin found steady employment as an illustrator, and many avant-garde artists were closely allied with their literary counterparts. Thus Hans Arp illustrated the poetry of his Dadaist colleague Tristan Tzara, and Oskar Kokoschka an essay by his coffeehouse crony Karl Kraus. Painstaking fidelity to the text was not necessarily required in such collaborations; rather, the images frequently paralleled the words, forming a second, independent treatment of the theme that, by echoing the first, amplified its resonance. It is for this reason that all Kokoschka's illustrations (for example, of Bach's cantata O Ewigkeit--Du Donnerwort) are capable of standing on their own.

 

Another aspect of Kokoschka's work--and that of many of his contemporaries--is that its putative subject is often only a pretext for the exploration of more personal concerns. Therefore in both the Kraus and the Bach illustrations, one clearly recognizes the faces of the artist and his lover, Alma Mahler. Symbolism laid the groundwork for the personalization of allegorical subject matter. Munch's Madonna is a steamy seductress who seems deliberately to challenge accepted iconography, while Gustav Klimt's allegories of Medicine, Philosophy and Jurisprudence for the University of Vienna evoked a flurry of controversy due to their unconventional presentation of intertwined nudes. Some artists--such as Marc Chagall in his series Mein Leben--were specifically autobiographical in their approach; many simply contented themselves with depicting everyday life as they experienced it.

 

During the early decades of this century, "everyday life," as it had been defined when the pioneer modernists were children, was undergoing a profound upheaval. World War I put a final end to the staid bourgeois society of the late nineteenth century, and although many artists embraced this end with gleeful nihilism, few had much to offer in the way of concrete political alternatives. The war itself--as brilliantly documented by Otto Dix in his monumental series--left in its wake horrific devastation and economic chaos. While Käthe Kollwitz was probably the most eloquent spokesperson on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised, even she shied away from the political infighting that came to characterize Weimar Germany. George Grosz chronicled the ongoing conflict between socialism and fascism with an acerbic wit, but when it became evident that fascism would triumph, he instinctively knew that he must flee.

 

In some respects, our understanding of the present moment--rife with manic pronouncements about the death of socialism--may well be enriched by a glance backward at the work of artists who, so many years ago, dealt with similar issues. The persistence of such artists, and of their work, should in a broader sense give pause to those who would contend that art and politics (or art and content) do not mix. It has become a truism that even the most seemingly innocuous art subliminally reflects the society of its day. In times of turmoil, it is natural that artists take the lead in responding to the social forces that surround them, and imperative that we listen.