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Erich Heckel

Left: Resting Woman (Siddi Heckel). 1913. Watercolor, gouache and charcoal.

Right: Portrait of a Man. 1919. Color woodcut. Private collection.

EXHIBITIONS (*INDICATES SOLO EXHIBITION)

ADAA Art Show 2017

March 1, 2017 - March 5, 2017


IFPDA Print Fair 2016

November 3, 2016 - November 6, 2016


IFPDA Print Fair 2016

November 3, 2016 - November 6, 2016


Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016


Recent Acquisitions

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016


Art Basel 2016

June 16, 2016 - June 19, 2016


ADAA Art Show 2016

March 1, 2016 - March 6, 2016


IFPDA Print Fair 2015

November 4, 2015 - November 8, 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


ADAA: The Art Show 2014

March 5, 2014 - March 9, 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


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 13, 2010 - October 1, 2010


From Brücke To Bauhaus

The Meanings of Modernity in Germany, 1905-1933

March 31, 2009 - June 26, 2009


Transforming Reality

Pattern and Design in Modern and Self-Taught Art

January 15, 2008 - March 8, 2008


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


* 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


65th Anniversary Exhibition, Part I

Austrian and German Expressionism

October 28, 2004 - January 8, 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


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 20, 2000 - September 8, 2000


From Façade to Psyche

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

March 28, 2000 - June 10, 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


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


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


Recent Acquisitions

June 20, 1995 - September 8, 1995


On the Brink 1900-2000

The Turning of Two Centuries

March 28, 1995 - May 26, 1995


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


* Erich Heckel

March 29, 1955


RECENT ACQUISITIONS

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999

ARTISTS

Beckmann, Max

Coe, Sue

Corinth, Lovis

Darger, Henry

Fischer, Johann

Garber, Johann

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Kernbeis, Franz

Klinger, Max

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Korec, Johann

Kubin, Alfred

Lebduska, Lawrence

Lohse-Wächtler, Elfriede

Mammen, Jeanne

Modersohn-Becker, Paula

Moses, Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma")

Nedjar, Michel

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Reisenbauer, Heinrich

Schiele, Egon

Tschirtner, Oswald

Walla, August

 

ESSAY

Once again, it is time for the Galerie St. Etienne's annual summer survey of recent acquisitions, and with it, our synopsis of recent art-world trends. This year is unusual in two respects. First of all, it is the last year in most people's visceral reckoning of the current millennium. On a more personal note, 1999 also marks the 60th anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne's founding. We will be celebrating our anniversary in November/December with a major loan exhibition. Titled "Saved from Europe," this forthcoming show will attempt to reconstruct the gallery's early history, in the process documenting the impact which the Hitler's cultural policies had on the development of the New York art scene. However, the present moment provides an apt occasion to look back in a more general manner and to review the ways in which art dealing has changed in the last sixty years.

 

In 1939, when Otto Kallir established the Galerie St. Etienne, the New York art world was a much smaller, more casual place. With the "blockbuster" exhibition still decades in the future, the public for art--particularly for modern art--was minuscule by today's standards. Prices, too, were comparatively diminutive, yet while we may long for the days when it was possible to buy a Schiele watercolor for $100 (or __- for $---, according to one of the gallery's old invoices), we must remember that it was also much more difficult to make money selling art. The dealers who championed modern art, starting around the turn of the century, were evangelists and proselytizers. They had to be, for most people found the new art trends alien and forbidding. When Nazi persecution drove European artists, scholars and dealers (including Kallir) to Manhattan's shores, these refugees colonized a territory that was on the whole even more provincial than that which they had been forced to abandon.

 

It is against this background that the tradition of the scholar-dealer (which the Galerie St. Etienne still upholds) developed. In the 1940s and '50s, dealers established a crucial link between modern artists and the broader public. It was generally the dealer's role to entice critics and curators, and to educate everyone. Exhibitions were geared to the uninitiated as well as the seasoned collector. With close ties to artists and their estates, and constant experience dodging fakes in the marketplace, the dealer was also in many cases the logical authority and source of the definitive catalogue raisonné. Émigré dealers from Europe often had deeper knowledge of the artists they represented than did anyone in America. And this was particularly true of dealers like Kallir, who introduced the Austrian Expressionists at a time when they were totally unknown in this country.

 

The changes that have swept the art market in the last twenty or so years can in large part be attributed to the success of Kallir's generation of dealers and art historians. The sort of broad-based educational programming that dealers routinely pursued no longer seems as essential as it once did. Yet while general knowledge of art may be on the upswing, genuine expertise is as rare as ever--perhaps rarer than when the art world consisted of an intimate coterie of like-minded individuals who pursued art with a dedication more strictly aesthetic than financial. On the one hand, the commodification of art has certainly made people more diligent: matters such as authenticity and good title naturally assume more importance as values rise into the six figures and beyond. On the other hand, however, such high values can easily become ends in themselves, blinding viewers to the true worth of the art in question. One may ask, did the Van Gogh (or the Cézanne or the Picasso) bring fifty million dollars because it is a great painting, or is it a great painting because it brought fifty million dollars?

 

It is, of course, the job of the responsible dealer to answer these questions--that is, to judge an art work in terms of its overall quality and condition, its place in the artist's oeuvre and in the current market--and then (and only then), in view of all these factors, to determine the work's proper price. The market, though elusive, is real--the result of a myriad shifting forces that can better be evaluated by a professional in daily contact with those forces than by the collector who spends most of his or her time elsewhere. At any given moment, there can be dips and surges in the market--the opportunity for a steal or the opportunity to be robbed. The myth of auction is that one can make a killing selling and get a bargain buying, but logic dictates that both propositions cannot be simultaneously valid. For every winner in this equation, there must be a loser. The "true" price of a work of art is more likely to be that set by an experienced dealer.

 

Unfortunately, volatile market forces have to a degree served to undermine the dealer's authority. The scholar-dealer who cultivates a narrow field of expertise sometimes seems to be a dying breed, since many secondary-market dealers and all auctioneers find it more practical to cast a wider net. Yet these relative generalists cannot possibly know as much as the old-fashioned dealer who concentrates on a handful of artists. Moreover, whereas the traditional scholar-dealer is committed to an artist's entire oeuvre, rather than merely the alleged masterpieces, the newer dealers and auctioneers prefer to nurture the high end. It is a given that the profit on a $500,000 painting is substantially greater than that on a $500 print, but this top-heavy approach is disastrous for novice and low-to-mid-level collectors, who are increasingly left to their own devices.

 

The other side of the coin is that two decades of aggressive auction-house publicity and now the Internet have led many people to believe that they can go it alone in the art market. However, this assumption is based on two very dubious premises: first of all, that auction prices invariably reflect the true values of the works being sold, and second, that anyone, armed with an auction price history, can use these often erratic figures to evaluate a specific work of art. Like much about the present economic order, these premises may seem to empower the individual, but they actually place him or her at a grave disadvantage. Although fair market value is defined as the price agreed to by a willing buyer and seller, the fact is that unless both buyer and seller are knowledgeable, one party is likely to be cheated. The dealer's role is to serve as the intermediary between these two parties and to ensure that the price paid is fair to both.

 

The present trend is to treat art as just another commodity in the global economy, yet there is something about art that inherently resists commodification. Collecting is a quirky passion, and those who have fared best economically over the years have been those who followed their hearts and developed their eyes, rather than those who bought consciously for investment. Art-works provide visceral pleasure; they need to be seen and sometimes even touched, and cannot so easily be purchased long distance. The knowledge that is required to buy intelligently also must be developed in face-to-face conversations, and the conversations that are likely to be most productive are those with someone who has both an aesthetic and a market sense--that is to say, with an expert dealer. Much has changed about the world in the last sixty years, but art remains essentially the same, and on the eve of the millennium, the scholar-dealer is if anything more necessary than ever before.

 

The Galerie St. Etienne's summer survey of recent acquisitions, as is traditional, follows the themes developed in the previous season's exhibitions. And, as usual, the list of artists includes many old, familiar names and a few new ones. Although the pictures of Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler (whom we introduced in tandem with a showing of works by her better known colleague George Grosz) had to go back to Germany for a major museum tour, we are pleased to have kept one extremely strong portrait here in New York. That portrait makes an interesting comparison with a just-received collection of drawings by Jeanne Mammen, a German woman artist of the same era whom we first featured in an exhibition several years ago. Our presentation last fall examining Käthe Kollwitz's influences shed new light on someone who has long been a Galerie St. Etienne favorite, and we are extremely pleased to have obtained a substantial new inventory of works from an important Kollwitz collector. We were also fortunate this past year to have assumed the exclusive East Coast representation of Henry Darger, in our opinion one of the most significant "outsider" artists discovered within the past three decades. Also included in our summer show are a seminal Schiele self-portrait, a selection of rare, early pieces by Michel Nedjar, a new group of works by the Gugging artists, and recently acquired items by Sue Coe, Otto Dix, Grosz, Erich Heckel, Max Klinger, Oskar Kokoschka, Alfred Kubin, Lawrence Lebduska, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Grandma Moses and a number of other gallery artists.