Gustav Klimt

Left: Gustav Klimt in his studio garden. Circa 1912-14. Photograph.

Right: Poster for the First Secession Exhibition. 1898. Private collection.


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 11, 2017 - October 13, 2017

The Woman Question

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

March 14, 2017 - June 30, 2017

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 12, 2016 - October 7, 2016

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015

Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015

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 9, 2013 - September 27, 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

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 13, 2010 - October 1, 2010

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

Who Paid the Piper?

The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

March 8, 2007 - May 26, 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

* 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

65th Anniversary Exhibition, Part I

Austrian and German Expressionism

October 28, 2004 - January 8, 2005

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 24, 2003 - September 12, 2003

In Search of the "Total Artwork"

Viennese Art and Design 1897–1932

April 8, 2003 - June 14, 2003

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 25, 2002 - September 20, 2002

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoscha

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

November 23, 2001 - January 5, 2002

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

June 26, 2001 - September 7, 2001

From Façade to Psyche

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

March 28, 2000 - June 10, 2000

Saved From Europe

In Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

November 6, 1999 - January 8, 2000

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998


Repression and Revolt in Modern Art

March 26, 1998 - May 30, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997

The Viennese Line

Art and Design Circa 1900

November 18, 1996 - January 4, 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

55th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Otto Kallir

June 7, 1994 - September 2, 1994

Symbolism and the Austrian Avant Garde

Klimt, Schiele and their Contemporaries

November 16, 1993 - January 8, 1994

Recent Acquisitions

June 8, 1993 - September 3, 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

Viennese Graphic Design

From Secession to Expressionism

November 19, 1991 - January 11, 1992

Recent Acquisitions

Themes and Variations

May 14, 1991 - August 16, 1991

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, drawings and prints

January 22, 1991 - March 2, 1991

Recent Acquisitions

June 12, 1990 - August 31, 1990

The Narrative in Art

January 23, 1990 - March 17, 1990

The Galerie St. Etienne

A History in Documents and Pictures

June 20, 1989 - September 8, 1989

* Gustav Klimt

Paintings and Drawings

April 11, 1989 - June 10, 1989

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

June 14, 1988 - September 16, 1988

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

April 12, 1988 - May 27, 1988

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

April 7, 1987 - October 31, 1987

Oskar Kokoschka and His Time

November 25, 1986 - January 31, 1987

Viennese Design and Wiener Werkstätte

September 23, 1986 - November 8, 1986

Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, Drawings and Prints

May 27, 1986 - September 13, 1986

The Art of Giving

December 3, 1985 - January 18, 1986

Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985

European and American Landscapes

June 4, 1985 - September 13, 1985

Arnold Schoenberg's Vienna

November 13, 1984 - January 5, 1985

* Gustav Klimt

Drawings and Selected Paintings

September 20, 1983 - November 5, 1983

Early and Late

Drawings, Paintings & Prints from Academicism to Expressionism

June 1, 1983 - September 2, 1983

Aspects of Modernism

June 1, 1982 - September 3, 1982

The Human Perspective

Recent Acquisitions

March 16, 1982 - May 15, 1982

Austria's Expressionism

April 21, 1981 - May 30, 1981

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele

November 12, 1980 - December 27, 1980

* Gustav Klimt

March 20, 1970

Austrian Art of the 20th Century

March 21, 1969

* Gustav Klimt

February 4, 1967

The Wiener Werkstätte

November 16, 1966

25th Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

October 17, 1964

Austrian Expressionists

January 6, 1964

Group Show

October 15, 1962

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin

March 14, 1961

Watercolors and Drawings by Austrian Artists from the Dial Collection

May 2, 1960

European and American Expressionists

September 22, 1959

* Gustav Klimt

April 1, 1959

Austrian Art of the 19th Century

From Wadlmüller to Klimt

April 1, 1950

Small, Good Art Works from the 19th and 20th Centuries

January 27, 1949

Franz Barwig the Elder, Franz Barwig the Younger and Gustav Klimt

March 12, 1948

Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

September 15, 1945

Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940

Group Exhibition

May 1, 1939

Austrian Art

February 1, 1939

Important Paintings

November 29, 1937

Anton Faistauer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

June 1, 1933

Gustav Klimt and Bruno Lauterbach

March 29, 1928

* Gustav Klimt

May 20, 1926


From Secession to Expressionism

November 19, 1991 - January 11, 1992


Czeschka, Carl Otto

Hoffmann, Josef

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Löffler, Berthold

Moser, Kolomon

Peche, Dagobert

Roller, Alfred

Schiele, Egon

Wiener Werkstätte

Wimmer-Wisgril, Eduard Josef



From the founding of the Vienna Secession in 1897, graphic design played a pivotal role in introducing and sustaining the concept of modernism in Austria. The genre's melding of the fine and applied arts was ideally suited to the Austrian temperament, which preferred creature comforts to the more sublime demands of painting and sculpture. Particularly in the seminal years of the early twentieth century, almost every major Austrian artist (including Carl Otto Czeschka, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Berthold Löffler, Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Dagobert Peche, Alfred Roller, Egon Schiele and Eduard Wimmer) contributed to the graphic arts, which formed an aesthetic glue uniting a multitude of disciplines. The impact of graphic design was further heightened by its populist nature: a Klimt poster was likely to be viewed by many more people than a Klimt painting, and numerous smaller objects (broadsheets, postcards, books, journals and fashion prints) were intentionally disseminated as visual propaganda, to raise the general level of Austrian taste.


The Secession's proclivity for the applied arts--reflected both in the contents of its exhibitions and its elaborate installations--naturally created friction between the conventional easel painters and the more progressive "Stylists" (who included Klimt in addition to the architect Hoffmann and the designer Moser). When, in 1905, these tensions led to a permanent split between Klimt's group and the others, the Wiener Werkstätte--a design collective founded by Hoffmann and Moser in 1903--became the principal headquarters of the Viennese avant-garde. Through its multitudinous contacts with collectors, industry and the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Art)--where most of its leaders both studied and taught--the Wiener Werkstätte commanded a wide sphere of influence. Its conception of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) as a unified architectural environment encompassing both the fine and the applied arts made the Werkstätte an important patron of painters as well as designers and craftsmen. The most important Viennese art exhibitions between 1905 and the outbreak of World War I were the Kunstschauen of 1908 and 1909, both orchestrated by the Wiener Werkstätte and its cohorts.


Neither the Secession nor the Wiener Werkstätte espoused a set style, and their graphics thus spontaneously reflected the rapidly changing aesthetics of modernism. At the turn of the century, French Art Nouveau and its German offshoot, Jugendstil, were the dominant influences in Austria. However, perhaps because cross-fertilization amongst disparate art forms was more rampant in Vienna than elsewhere, Art Nouveau inspired a broader variety of interpretations. In the hands of Hoffmann and Moser the style, tempered by a quest for structural integrity and the legacy of the British Arts & Crafts movement, veered sharply in the direction of pure abstraction. On the other hand Klimt, welding these same abstract tendencies to Symbolist subject matter, reinterpreted age-old allegorical themes in a shockingly contemporary vein. The typographer Rudolf von Larisch encouraged the equal treatment of negative and positive space, an innovative approach that could be applied to images as well as to lettering. If Art Nouveau in its original incarnation tended to affix organic decoration (leaves, tendrils, flowers and such) to utilitarian objects, Austrian designers had a tendency to invert the formula, reinterpreting representational subject matter in terms of decorative geometry.


The collaboration between Hoffmann and Moser that was central to the early "purist" phase of the Wiener Werkstätte began to break down after a few years, due in part to personal differences and in part to the influence of other colleagues. Two of the most important of these were Carl Otto Czeschka and Berthold Löffler, both of whom taught at the Kunstgewerbeschule and had a strongly figurative bent. Löffler, who was also a partner in Michael Powolny's Wiener Keramik (a ceramics workshop closely allied with the Wiener Werkstätte), was particularly influential in his use of bold colors and playful graphics. This is most evident in the early work of Oskar Kokoschka, who studied with Czeschka and Löffler and who initially seemed destined for a Wiener Werkstätte career.


Kokoschka's poster for the 1908 Kunstschau and his famous "adult fairy tale," Die träumenden Knaben (published by the Wiener Werkstätte at around the same time), both employ the bright hues and decorative stylization then flourishing at the Kunstgwerbeschule. However, the preliminary drawings for Die träumenden Knaben (and other similar drawings from this period) reveal a tense angularity and conflicted sexuality completely at odds with the harmonious requirements of interior decoration. It was this quality that the architect Adolf Loos--Hoffmann's iconoclastic rival--recognized when he literally plucked Kokoschka from the clutches of the Wiener Werkstätte by promising to set him up as a painter. Kokoschka, who by his own account had never visited a museum and knew little of painting, invented a primitive, scraped style that was partly self-generated and in all probability partly influenced by his colleague Max Oppenheimer (Mopp). Having thus broken decisively with the Wiener Werkstätte, Kokoschka never looked back, but it is nonetheless true that he owed the foundations of his career, both artistically and professionally, to that organization's support.


By 1910, when Egon Schiele first emerged as an Expressionist, the somber, scraped portraits of Kokoschka and Mopp were already fairly well known in Vienna, but although Schiele momentarily adopted a similar style, his essential path to Expressionism was different. A precocious talent, he had as a schoolboy already mastered the stylized flatness typical of contemporary graphic design and made a stab at creating illustrations in the manner of the popular German journal Jugend. Yet he also had a flair for classical draughtsmanship, and when, at the tender age of sixteen, he applied for admission to the Kunstgewerbeschule, he was referred to the more prestigious Academy of Fine Art, which immediately accepted him. (Later on, the Wiener Werkstätte would reject Schiele's submissions for betraying a similar underlying seriousness.)


Nonetheless, Schiele found no congenial home at the ultra-conservative Academy, for his flawless draughtsmanship was inextricably linked to the graphic sensibilities of the applied arts. From decorative stylization to Expressionist exaggeration was but a short leap. Schiele's confrontation with the existential void owed a direct debt to Klimt's horror vacui and the conscious interweaving of positive and negative space pioneered by Larisch's disciples. Unlike Kokoschka, who eventually evolved a painterly approach that implicitly repudiated the graphic legacy of the Wiener Werkstätte, Schiele never relinquished the primacy of line. Even his relatively rare landscape drawings reveal an architectonic crispness worthy of Josef Hoffmann.


In a certain sense, the Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte ceded their moral force to the younger generation of Expressionists. For whereas initially the Werkstätte had sought to meld form and function, its later efforts degenerated into a kind of cutesy folkishness and a superficial ornamentalism. Kunstgwerbeschule students were encouraged to produce stock patterns that could be applied to a multitude of objects, from wallpaper to glassware, rather than being thoroughly schooled in the technical requirements of their craft. The original grandiose scheme of merging art and artifact in a single Gesamtkunstwerk was undermined by the inherent conflict between pure aesthetics and utility. That is perhaps why the most substantive contributions of fin-de-Siècle Viennese graphic design are to be found not in the applied, but in the fine arts.