Käthe Kollwitz

Left: Self-Portrait. 1924. Woodcut. Private collection.

Right: Käthe Kollwitz. Photograph.


All Good Art is Political

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe

October 26, 2017 - March 10, 2018

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 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

Modern Furies

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014

* Käthe Kollwitz

The Complete Print Cycles

October 8, 2013 - December 28, 2013

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

* Käthe Kollwitz

A Portrait of the Artist

April 13, 2010 - June 25, 2010

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

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 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

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 24, 2003 - September 12, 2003

* Käthe Kollwitz:

Master Printmaker

October 1, 2002 - January 4, 2003

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

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

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

Saved From Europe

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

November 6, 1999 - January 8, 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

* Becoming Käthe Kollwitz

An Artist and Her Influences

November 17, 1998 - December 31, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts About Looted Art)

June 9, 1998 - September 11, 1998

Recent Acquisitions

A Question of Quality

June 10, 1997 - September 5, 1997

Käthe Kollwitz - Lea Grundig

Two German Women & The Art of Protest

March 25, 1997 - May 31, 1997

Breaking All The Rules

Art in Transition

June 11, 1996 - September 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

Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era: Hannah Höch, Käthe Kollwitz, Jeanne Mam

September 13, 1994 - November 5, 1994

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

* Käthe Kollwitz

In Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Artist's Birth

September 15, 1992 - November 7, 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

Themes and Variations

May 14, 1991 - August 16, 1991

Recent Acquisitions

June 12, 1990 - August 31, 1990

Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, Alfred Kubin

A Study in Influences

March 27, 1990 - June 2, 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

Fifty Years Galerie St. Etienne: An Overview

February 14, 1989 - April 1, 1989

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

June 14, 1988 - September 16, 1988

Three Pre-Expressionists

Lovis Corinth Käthe Kollwitz Paula Modersohn-Becker

January 26, 1988 - March 12, 1988

* Käthe Kollwitz

The Power of the Print

November 17, 1987 - January 16, 1988

Recent Acquisitions and Works From the Collection

April 7, 1987 - October 31, 1987

Käthe Kollwitz/Paula Modersohn-Becker

January 28, 1986 - March 15, 1986

The Art of Giving

December 3, 1985 - January 18, 1986

Expressionists on Paper

October 8, 1985 - November 23, 1985

Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985

Early and Late

Drawings, Paintings & Prints from Academicism to Expressionism

June 1, 1983 - September 2, 1983

* Käthe Kollwitz

The Artist as Printmaker

September 28, 1982 - November 6, 1982

Aspects of Modernism

June 1, 1982 - September 3, 1982

The Human Perspective

Recent Acquisitions

March 16, 1982 - May 15, 1982

* Kollwitz: The Drawing and The Print

May 1, 1980 - June 10, 1980

* Käthe Kollwitz

December 1, 1976

* Käthe Kollwitz

February 3, 1971

* Käthe Kollwitz

In the Cause of Humanity

October 23, 1967

* Käthe Kollwitz

May 1, 1965

Group Show

October 15, 1962

* Käthe Kollwitz

November 11, 1961

* Käthe Kollwitz

December 14, 1959

European and American Expressionists

September 22, 1959

* Käthe Kollwitz

January 12, 1959

* Käthe Kollwitz

April 16, 1956

* Käthe Kollwitz

October 25, 1951

* Tenth Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

November 30, 1949

* Käthe Kollwitz


October 18, 1948

* Käthe Kollwitz

October 4, 1947

* Käthe Kollwitz

Memorial Exhibition

November 21, 1945

* Käthe Kollwitz

Part II

October 26, 1944

* Käthe Kollwitz

Part I

November 3, 1943

Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940


(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 11, 2017 - October 13, 2017


Baskin, Leonard

Beckmann, Max

Dix, Otto

Heckel, Erich

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kolbe, Georg

Kollwitz, Käthe

Moses, Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma")

Motesiczky, Marie-Louise

Mueller, Otto

Nolde, Emil

Schiele, Egon

Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl



Our nation is divided, as are the United Kingdom and Western Europe. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise of right-wing populism across the European continent suggest that globalization has failed as a progressive ideology. The art world is resoundingly international in its orientation, yet globalization has not been kind to all of us. Increasingly our community has become divided between economic “haves” and “have-nots.” After a relatively easy recovery from the 2008 recession (which made art more attractive as an “alternative asset class”), the art market declined sharply in the past two years. While accurate figures are notoriously difficult to come by, it has been estimated that overall sales decreased by approximately 7% in 2015, and a further 11% in 2016. Auction sales, which are easier to calculate, dropped by between 18.8% and 26% in 2016 alone. The art market has always been subject to cyclical downturns, but this feels like a fundamental shift.


The race to the top, which began at least ten years ago, has accelerated. Even in the recessionary climate of 2016, dealers whose volume exceeded $50 million saw an increase in sales of 19%. So far in 2017, the big auction houses have staged a modest comeback by selling fewer items at higher prices. In the May Impressionist/Modern evening auction at Christie’s, a mere twelve lots (of 53) accounted for 75% of the sales total. At Sotheby’s contemporary sale a few nights later, the 110.5-million-dollar Basquiat contributed more than one third to the gross. According to this year’s Art Basel/UBS market report, half the proceeds generated at auction come from the 1% of artists whose work sells for over $1 million. It is said that there are about 140 people in the world with the means and desire to spend $50 million or more on a single work of art; 300 potentially in the market for works priced above $20 million; and about 1,000 willing to spend over $5 million. Like the rest of the world, the art world is dominated by the super-rich.


And, like the global middle class, the middle of the art market has eroded. Media attention may focus on multimillion-dollar transactions, but most artworks sell for under $50,000. In that price range, it is difficult for smaller galleries (those with fewer than ten employees) to generate enough income to meet overhead in high-rent cities like New York and London, to compete on the costly art fair circuit, and to keep their artists from being poached by better-financed competitors. “It was like someone turned the faucet off,” said Lisa Cooley, one of many dealers who felt compelled to close shop during the recent market downturn. Others include such venerable players as David McKee and Andrea Rosen. Magnus Edwards, observing that most of his sales were generated at art fairs, decided to shutter his London gallery, Ibid. Still, collectors and dealers alike complain about art fair glut. “We do art fairs where we don’t make any money,” José Freire, owner of Team Gallery in New York’s SoHo, told Artnews. “The art fairs sell themselves to us, not based on the idea that we will profit, but that we will go there and lose money—but we’ll come back with, you know, business cards. By what business model is that normal?”


Although masters like Klimt, Modigliani, Munch and Picasso can command prices in the nine figures, modernism now accounts for a smaller percentage of art sales by value (23%) than postwar and contemporary art (52%). Partly this drop is due to a natural process of attrition, as the best older works become permanently enshrined in museum collections. But the obsession with “trophy” objects has been devastating to what might be termed interstitial items: lesser pieces by major artists, and work by secondary members of the leading modernist movements. There is no logical relationship between the monetary value of a great Schiele watercolor and that of a typical drawing, even though the latter probably tells us more about the artist’s developmental process. E.L. Kirchner far out-prices his Brücke colleagues Erich Heckel, Max Pechstein, Otto Mueller and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. The market’s lopsided preferences shred the fabric of art history.


The pervasive preoccupation with art as an “asset class” has undermined connoisseurship, the traditional mechanism for assessing aesthetic quality. Confusing financial value with artistic value, collectors chase after the same artists. Dealers likewise feel compelled to follow the money; few these days can afford to devote an entire career to developing expertise in a narrow area of specialization. Art fair booths do not encourage contemplation or the sort of in-depth presentations possible with a larger gallery space. In the press, breathless reports of auction records and trendy personality profiles have largely supplanted serious art criticism. For much of the twentieth century, the art world was compelled to “sell” modern art—not so much commercially as intellectually—to a skeptical public. The popularity of contemporary art in the twenty-first century, however, has diminished the need for educational proselytizing.


Meanwhile, despite its popular appeal and statistical gains, the contemporary art market has been damaged by aggressive speculation. For a few years before the bubble burst in 2015-16, collectors were gobbling up work by young, untested artists in the belief that they could turn a quick profit. Auction houses happily joined the flipping frenzy, triggering an accelerated boom-and-bust cycle. The results of Phillips’ September 2016 “New Now” sale document this trajectory: Math Bass (b. 1981), 2014 auction record $81,250, 2016 price $25,000; Hugh Scott-Douglas (b. 1988), 2014 purchase price $100,000, resold for $30,000 at Phillips; Grear Patterson (b. 1988), peak prices in the six figures, Phillips price $7,500; Christian Rosa (b. 1982), peak prices in the six figures, $22,500 at Phillips; Lucien Smith (b. 1989), 2014 auction record $372,120, 2016 price $16,250. In the wake of the Phillips debacle, the New York Times noted that, “The prices dealers are asking for works are [now] often higher than their resale value at auction.” Such, indeed, has historically been the norm for emerging artists.


The conviction that art will, or should, increase in value at a steady rate is relatively new. People dream of devising a mathematical formula capable of calculating the potential upside and risk of specific art investments. Artnet, whose online database contains over 10 million auction records, recently acquired Tutela Capital, a firm that specializes in quantitative art market analysis and predictive modeling. At around the same time, Sotheby’s acquired Mei Moses Art Indices, which tracks repeat auction sales. ARTSTAQ, a stock exchange for art, uses an algorithm to give a Standard-and-Poor’s-like rating to some 300,000 listed artists. “The art market data is translated into feelings and vice versa,” the company’s head of communications told Artnews.


There are a number of problems with trying to get the art market to function like the stock market. First of all, only auction prices are public, and no one has as yet figured out a way to obtain comprehensive information on the 62.5% of art transactions that take place privately. But even if it were possible to compile all the pertinent sales information, that data could at best only give us a snapshot of the past. It would not be predictive. Because tastes are fluid and most artworks are unique, it is exceedingly difficult to extrapolate from one sales result to the next. Whether public or private, sales figures require interpretation by knowledgeable individuals, and that makes the numbers impervious to mathematical modeling.


Among the current art world’s most profound divides is that between investors and collectors. Investment aside, people buy art for any number of reasons: because they feel an emotional connection to the work; because living with art enhances their daily existence; because collecting connects them with a stimulating group of like-minded individuals. Most acquire a piece here and there over the course of time, and stop when they run out of wall space. A relatively small percentage, however, develop the sustained creative engagement with objects that characterizes the dedicated collector. A collection in this classic sense is a self-contained world controlled by its maker, who determines its parameters and endows its contents with meaning. The objects in a collection, removed from their original contexts, are redefined in terms of their relationship to one another. The collector’s mastery within this realm, according to psychologists, serves as a buffer against the anxieties of daily existence and the fear of death. Art acquires a spiritual dimension by virtue of its perceived capacity to transcend mortality.


Inasmuch as collecting is an extremely personal activity, it is not surprising that collections differ widely, but the process itself is less variable. Often the pursuit of a desired object is as emotionally charged as its eventual acquisition. Ronald Lauder recalls falling in love with Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I as an adolescent on his first visit to Vienna. Decades later, after protracted international legal wrangling, he finally got his “Woman in Gold.” Recognizing what would become a lifelong passion for Austrian modernism, the teenaged Lauder also went out and hired a German language tutor. Similarly, Dr. Richard Simms’ devotion to the work of Käthe Kollwitz took him ever deeper into initially foreign territory, prompting him to immerse himself in the pertinent literature and eventually to acquire complementary works by the artist’s contemporaries. Collecting is an intellectual journey, an endless, mutually reinforcing cycle of looking and learning. Visual stimulation sparks a desire to study the art and its context in greater depth, and knowledge enhances subsequent visual encounters.


In contrast to the copycat buyers so prevalent today, dedicated collectors tend to find lacunae in the marketplace: areas that are underappreciated and where they therefore can more readily make a mark. Merrill C. Berman amassed a world-class collection of modernist art and graphic design, ranging from Russian Constructivism and the Bauhaus to Vietnam-era political posters, at a time when much of this material was routinely thrown away. Lisa Unger Baskin haunted flea markets and antiquarian bookshops seeking publications produced by women, who were then as undervalued as the texts they authored. Leonard Lauder focused on analytical Cubism, a subject so difficult that almost no one else was interested. And few people cared much about Austrian modernism when Leonard’s brother Ronald began collecting it in the 1960s. By shedding light on overlooked but important works, collectors move the culture as a whole forward.


Unwittingly, however, passionate collectors also fuel the price escalations that, in turn, goad speculators. “You can’t put together a good collection unless you are focused, disciplined, tenacious and willing to pay more than you can possibly afford,” Leonard Lauder told the New York Times. Intent on nurturing and pruning their holdings, such collectors do sell from time to time: to upgrade, to finance new acquisitions, or because their focus has changed. And when they sell, they are more likely than speculators to realize a profit, because they have a deeper understanding of the art and the market. Nevertheless, monetary gain is not the dedicated collector’s primary motivation.


In fact, most of the aforementioned collections are destined for public institutions. Ronald Lauder’s Austrian and German art will go to New York’s Neue Galerie. Richard Simms’ Kollwitzes are at the Getty Research Institute. Lisa Baskin’s collection was recently acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Library at Duke University. Leonard Lauder’s Cubists have been promised to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Merrill Berman’s holdings are constantly featured in museum shows. These people’s lives have been enriched emotionally by the process of collecting, and they, in turn, have enriched our lives by sharing their collections.


Those in the financial services industry bemoan the art market’s “asymmetry of information.” However, asymmetry of information is intrinsic to the art world. Not everyone is a trained art historian. Not everyone has the time or inclination to constantly scour galleries, auctions and art fairs, parsing the nuances of pricing. Not everyone has a connoisseur’s eye or the ability to discern the impact of condition on an artist’s original intent. The art world consists of an informal group of artists, collectors, dealers, scholars, curators, critics and writers who collectively, over a period of time, reach a consensus regarding the relative importance and quality of disparate artworks. This consensus, and not the market, determines long-term value.


The art world’s shift in emphasis from collecting to trading has created the misperception that art is all about money. Ironically, however, the resulting fixation on investment is counteracted by the disproportionate influence of billionaire buyers, who undercut any sort of credible market structure. Like the broader split in contemporary society, the art world divide pits the interests of a few individuals against those of the community as a whole. Beyond the populist rhetoric, an economy dominated by a wealthy minority is not good for anyone. Unfortunately, our politicians are not doing much to remedy the fundamental inequities that led us to this juncture.


Despite the dwindling of first-rate modernist works in the marketplace, this year’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition demonstrates that such rarities are still obtainable. Indeed, two of the masterworks in the current exhibition have not been offered for sale since the early years of the twentieth century. Max Beckmann’s monumental Portrait of Irma Simon comes to us directly from the sitter’s family. Simon, a close friend of the artist, introduced him to his second wife, Mathilde (Quappi) Kaulbach. Irma and her husband Heinrich Simon, editor and publisher of the Frankfurter Zeitung, hosted a popular lunchtime salon where the local intelligentsia gathered on Fridays. The lives of the Jewish Simons changed dramatically following Hitler’s rise in 1933. Heinrich was removed from his position at the newspaper, and the family had to live apart until they were able to immigrate to the U.S. in 1940. These travails were far in the future when Beckmann painted the 23-year-old Irma, yet a sense of foreboding pervades her youthful visage.


Another rarity in our summer show is Egon Schiele’s Standing Female in Shirt with Black Stockings and Red Scarf. This bold watercolor, which dates from the peak of the artist’s Expressionist phase in early 1911, was first exhibited at the Gustav Nebehay gallery in Vienna in 1919. Most of the works in that show came from the estate of the artist, who had died the previous year. It is believed that this watercolor was acquired by the great-grandfather of the present owners in 1919. The colors are exceptionally well preserved, because the sheet has seldom been exposed since.


Additional highlights among our “Recent Acquisitions” include Emil Nolde’s stunning watercolor portrait of his wife, Ada—as fresh in its coloration as when first painted. Gustav Klimt’s famous Poster for the First Exhibition of the Vienna Secession is almost never seen in the marketplace, and our impression is in exceptionally pristine condition. Images of women were the subject of our spring exhibition, “The Woman Question,” and of our installation at Art Basel in June. Reprising this theme, our summer show includes three life-sized female portraits in oil: by Otto Dix, Oskar Kokoschka and Marie-Louise Motesiczky. The presentation is rounded out with further works by Beckmann, Dix, Erich Heckel, E.L. Kirchner, Klimt, Georg Kolbe, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Mueller, Nolde, Schiele and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. American offerings include a unique wood sculpture by Leonard Baskin, Man with Pomegranate, and a selection of paintings by Grandma Moses.