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Alfred Kubin

The Great-Grandmother. 1926. Ink and watercolor. The Museum of Modern Art.

EXHIBITIONS (*INDICATES SOLO EXHIBITION)

Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015


Alternate Histories

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015


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)

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


Fairy Tale, Myth and Fantasy

Approaches to Spirituality in Art

December 7, 2006 - February 3, 2007


More Than Coffee was Served

Café Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna and Weimar Germany

September 19, 2006 - November 25, 2006


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 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 26, 2001 - September 7, 2001


Art with an Agenda

Politics, Persuasion, Illustration and Decoration

April 10, 2001 - June 16, 2001


The Expressionist City

September 19, 2000 - November 4, 2000


Saved From Europe

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

November 6, 1999 - January 8, 2000


Recent Acquisitions

(And a Look at Sixty Years of Art Dealing)

June 15, 1999 - September 3, 1999


Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998


That Way Madness Lies

Expressionism and the Art of Gugging

January 14, 1997 - March 15, 1997


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


The Dance of Death

Images of Mortality in German Art

January 19, 1993 - March 13, 1993


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


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


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


Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 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


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


* Alfred Kubin

Visions From The Other Side

March 22, 1983 - May 7, 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


* Alfred Kubin

January 30, 1968


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


* Alfred Kubin

April 3, 1957


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

January 27, 1949


* Alfred Kubin

Master of Drawing

December 4, 1941


Modern Austrian Art

June 13, 1936


* Alfred Kubin

April 22, 1931


* Alfred Kubin

January 20, 1925


* Alfred Kubin

April 1, 1924


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.