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Past Exhibitions

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


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


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Featuring Watercolors and Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection

March 29, 2016 - July 1, 2016


Paula Modersohn-Becker

Art and Life

November 3, 2015 - March 19, 2016


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 21, 2015 - October 16, 2015


Leonard Baskin

Wunderkammer

April 23, 2015 - July 2, 2015


Alternate Histories

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

January 15, 2015 - April 11, 2015


Marie-Louise Motesiczky

The Mother Paintings

October 7, 2014 - December 24, 2014


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014


Ilija/Mangelos

Father & Son, Inside & Out

April 24, 2014 - July 3, 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


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


Story Lines

Tracing the Narrative of "Outsider" Art

January 15, 2013 - March 30, 2013


Egon Schiele's Women

October 23, 2012 - December 28, 2012


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 17, 2012 - October 13, 2012


Mad As Hell!

New Work (and Some Classics) by Sue Coe

April 17, 2012 - July 3, 2012


The Ins and Outs of Self-Taught Art

Reflections on a Shifting Field

January 10, 2012 - April 7, 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


Self-Taught Painters in American 1800-1950

Revisiting the Tradition

January 11, 2011 - April 2, 2011


Marie-Louise Motesiczky

Paradise Lost & Found

October 12, 2010 - December 30, 2010


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


Seventy Years Grandma Moses

A Loan Exhibition Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Artist's "Discovery"

February 3, 2010 - April 3, 2010


Egon Schiele as Printmaker

A Loan Exhibition Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Galerie St. Etienne

November 3, 2009 - January 23, 2010


From Brücke To Bauhaus

The Meanings of Modernity in Germany, 1905-1933

March 31, 2009 - June 26, 2009


They Taught Themselves

American Self-Taught Painters Between the World Wars

January 9, 2009 - March 14, 2009


Elephants We Must Never Forget

New Paintings Drawings and Prints by Sue Coe

October 14, 2008 - December 20, 2008


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


Leonard Baskin

Proofs and Process

October 9, 2007 - January 5, 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


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


Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

June 6, 2006 - September 8, 2006


Parallel Visions II

"Outsider" and "Insider" Art Today

April 5, 2006 - May 26, 2006


Ilija!

His First American Exhibtion

January 17, 2006 - March 18, 2006


Coming of Age

Egon Schiele and the Modernist Culture of Youth

November 15, 2005 - January 7, 2006


Sue Coe:

Sheep of Fools

September 20, 2005 - November 5, 2005


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 II

Self-Taught Artists

January 18, 2005 - March 26, 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


Animals & Us

The Animal in Contemporary Art

April 1, 2004 - May 22, 2004


Henry Darger

Art and Myth

January 15, 2004 - March 20, 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


In Search of the "Total Artwork"

Viennese Art and Design 1897–1932

April 8, 2003 - June 14, 2003


Russia's Self-Taught Artists

A New Perspective on the "Outsider"

January 14, 2003 - March 29, 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


Grandma Moses

Reflections of America

January 15, 2002 - March 16, 2002


Gustav Klimt/Egon Schiele/Oskar Kokoscha

From Art Nouveau to Expressionism

November 23, 2001 - January 5, 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


"Our Beautiful and Tormented Austria!": Art Brut in the Land of Freud

January 18, 2001 - March 17, 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


European Self-Taught Art

Brut or Naive?

January 18, 2000 - March 11, 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


Sue Coe: The Pit

The Tragical Tale of the Rise and Fall of a Vivisector

March 30, 1999 - June 5, 1999


Henry Darger and His Realms

January 14, 1999 - March 13, 1999


Becoming Käthe Kollwitz

An Artist and Her Influences

November 17, 1998 - December 31, 1998


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


Sacred & Profane

Michel Nedjar and Expressionist Primitivism

January 13, 1998 - March 14, 1998


Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Master Draughtsman

November 18, 1997 - January 3, 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


Käthe Kollwitz - Lea Grundig

Two German Women & The Art of Protest

March 25, 1997 - May 31, 1997


That Way Madness Lies

Expressionism and the Art of Gugging

January 14, 1997 - March 15, 1997


The Viennese Line

Art and Design Circa 1900

November 18, 1996 - January 4, 1997


Emil Nolde - Christian Rohlfs

Two German Expressionist Masters

September 24, 1996 - November 9, 1996


Breaking All The Rules

Art in Transition

June 11, 1996 - September 6, 1996


Sue Coe's Ship of Fools

March 26, 1996 - May 24, 1996


New York Folk

Lawrence Lebduska, Abraham Levin, Isreal Litwak

January 16, 1996 - March 16, 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


Recent Acquisitions

June 20, 1995 - September 8, 1995


On the Brink 1900-2000

The Turning of Two Centuries

March 28, 1995 - May 26, 1995


Earl Cummingham - Grandma Moses

Visions of America

January 17, 1995 - March 18, 1995


Drawn to Text: Comix Artists as Book Illustrators

November 15, 1994 - January 7, 1995


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

September 13, 1994 - November 5, 1994


55th Anniversary Exhibition in Memory of Otto Kallir

June 7, 1994 - September 2, 1994


Sue Coe: We All Fall Down

March 29, 1994 - May 27, 1994


The Forgotten Folk Art of the 1940's

January 18, 1994 - March 19, 1994


Symbolism and the Austrian Avant Garde

Klimt, Schiele and their Contemporaries

November 16, 1993 - January 8, 1994


Art and Politics in Weimar Germany

September 14, 1993 - November 6, 1993


Recent Acquisitions

June 8, 1993 - September 3, 1993


The "Outsider" Question

Non-Academic Art from 1900 to the Present

March 23, 1993 - May 28, 1993


The Dance of Death

Images of Mortality in German Art

January 19, 1993 - March 13, 1993


Art Spiegelman

The Road to Maus

November 17, 1992 - January 9, 1993


Käthe Kollwitz

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

September 15, 1992 - November 7, 1992


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

May 19, 1992 - September 4, 1992


Richard Gerstl/Oskar Kokoschka

March 17, 1992 - May 9, 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


The Expressionist Figure

September 10, 1991 - November 9, 1991


Recent Acquisitions

Themes and Variations

May 14, 1991 - August 16, 1991


Sue Coe Retrospective

Political Document of a Decade

March 12, 1991 - May 5, 1991


Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka

Watercolors, drawings and prints

January 22, 1991 - March 2, 1991


Egon Schiele

November 13, 1990 - January 12, 1991


Lovis Corinth

A Retrospective

September 11, 1990 - November 3, 1990


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


Grandma Moses

November 14, 1989 - January 13, 1990


Sue Coe

Porkopolis--Animals and Industry

September 19, 1989 - November 4, 1989


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


Fifty Years Galerie St. Etienne: An Overview

February 14, 1989 - April 1, 1989


Folk Artists at Work

Morris Hirshfield, John Kane and Grandma Moses

November 15, 1988 - January 14, 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


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


Folk Art of This Century

February 10, 1987 - March 28, 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


Expressionist Painters

March 25, 1986 - May 10, 1986


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


European and American Landscapes

June 4, 1985 - September 13, 1985


Expressionist Printmaking

Aspects of its Genesis and Development

April 1, 1985 - May 24, 1985


Expressionist Masters

January 18, 1985 - March 23, 1985


Arnold Schoenberg's Vienna

November 13, 1984 - January 5, 1985


Grandma Moses and Selected Folk Paintings

September 25, 1984 - November 3, 1984


American Folk Art

People, Places and Things

June 12, 1984 - September 14, 1984


John Kane

Modern America's First Folk Painter

April 17, 1984 - May 25, 1984


Eugène Mihaesco

The Illustrator as Artist

February 28, 1984 - April 7, 1984


Early Expressionist Masters

January 17, 1984 - February 18, 1984


Paula Modersohn-Becker

Germany's Pioneer Modernist

November 15, 1983 - January 7, 1984


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


Alfred Kubin

Visions From The Other Side

March 22, 1983 - May 7, 1983


20th Century Folk

The First Generation

January 18, 1983 - March 12, 1983


Grandma Moses

The Artist Behind the Myth

November 15, 1982 - January 8, 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


19th and 20th Century European and American Folk Art

January 19, 1982 - March 6, 1982


The Folk Art Tradition

Naïve Painting in Europe and the United States

November 17, 1981 - January 9, 1982


Austria's Expressionism

April 21, 1981 - May 30, 1981


Eugène Mihaesco

His First American One-Man Show

March 3, 1981 - April 11, 1981


Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele

November 12, 1980 - December 27, 1980


Summer Exhibition

June 17, 1980 - October 31, 1980


Kollwitz: The Drawing and The Print

May 1, 1980 - June 10, 1980


40th Anniversary Exhibition

November 13, 1979 - December 28, 1979


American Primitive Art

November 22, 1977


Käthe Kollwitz

December 1, 1976


Neue Galerie-Galerie St. Etienne

A Documentary Exhibition

May 1, 1976


Martin Pajeck

January 27, 1976


Georges Rouault and Frans Masereel

April 29, 1972


Branko Paradis

December 1, 1971


Käthe Kollwitz

February 3, 1971


Egon Schiele

The Graphic Work

October 19, 1970


Gustav Klimt

March 20, 1970


Friedrich Hundertwasser

May 6, 1969


Austrian Art of the 20th Century

March 21, 1969


Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition

October 31, 1968


Yugoslav Primitive Art

April 30, 1968


Alfred Kubin

January 30, 1968


Käthe Kollwitz

In the Cause of Humanity

October 23, 1967


Abraham Levin

September 26, 1967


Karl Stark

April 5, 1967


Gustav Klimt

February 4, 1967


The Wiener Werkstätte

November 16, 1966


Oskar Laske

October 25, 1965


Käthe Kollwitz

May 1, 1965


Egon Schiele

Watercolors and Drawings from American Collections

March 1, 1965


25th Anniversary Exhibition

Part II

November 21, 1964


25th Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

October 17, 1964


Mary Urban

June 9, 1964


Werner Berg, Jane Muus and Mura Dehn

May 5, 1964


Eugen Spiro

April 4, 1964


B. F. Dolbin

Drawings of an Epoch

March 3, 1964


Austrian Expressionists

January 6, 1964


Joseph Rifesser

December 3, 1963


Panorama of Yugoslav Primitive Art

October 21, 1963


Joe Henry

Watercolors of Vermont

May 1, 1963


French Impressionists

March 8, 1963


Grandma Moses

Memorial Exhibition

November 26, 1962


Group Show

October 15, 1962


Ernst Barlach

March 23, 1962


Martin Pajeck

February 24, 1962


Paintings by Expressionists

January 27, 1962


Käthe Kollwitz

November 11, 1961


Grandma Moses

September 7, 1961


My Friends

Fourth Biennial of Pictures by American School Children

May 27, 1961


Raimonds Staprans

April 17, 1961


Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin

March 14, 1961


Marvin Meisels

January 23, 1961


Egon Schiele

November 15, 1960


My Life's History

Paintings by Grandma Moses

September 12, 1960


Watercolors and Drawings by Austrian Artists from the Dial Collection

May 2, 1960


Martin Pajeck

February 29, 1960


Eugen Spiro

February 6, 1960


Käthe Kollwitz

December 14, 1959


Josef Scharl

Last Paintings and Drawings

November 11, 1959


European and American Expressionists

September 22, 1959


Our Town

One Hundred Paintings by American School Children

May 23, 1959


Marvin Meisels and Martin Pajeck

May 1, 1959


Gustav Klimt

April 1, 1959


Käthe Kollwitz

January 12, 1959


Oskar Kokoschka

October 28, 1958


Village Life in Guatemala

Paintings by Andres Curuchich

June 3, 1958


Two Unknown American Expressionists

Paintings by Marvin Meisels and Martin Pajeck

April 28, 1958


Paula Modersohn-Becker

March 15, 1958


The Great Tradition in American Painting

American Primitive Art

January 20, 1958


Jules Lefranc and Dominique Lagru

Two French Primitives

November 18, 1957


Margret Bilger

October 22, 1957


The Four Seasons

One Hundred Paintings by American School Children

June 11, 1957


Grandma Moses

May 6, 1957


Alfred Kubin

April 3, 1957


Franz Lerch

March 2, 1957


Egon Schiele

January 21, 1957


Josef Scharl

Memorial Exhibition

November 17, 1956


Irma Rothstein

May 19, 1956


Käthe Kollwitz

April 16, 1956


A Tribute to Grandma Moses

November 28, 1955


As I See Myself

One Hundred Paintings by American School Children

May 20, 1955


Juan De'Prey

April 19, 1955


Erich Heckel

March 29, 1955


Freddy Homburger

March 2, 1955


Masters of the 19th Century

January 18, 1955


Oskar Kokoschka

November 29, 1954


Isabel Case Borgatta and Josef Scharl

October 12, 1954


James N. Rosenberg and Eugen Spiro

April 30, 1954


Per Krogh

April 2, 1954


Cuno Amiet

February 16, 1954


Eniar Jolin

January 14, 1954


Irma Rothstein

December 8, 1953


Josef Scharl

November 11, 1953


Grandma Moses

October 21, 1953 - October 24, 1953


Wilhelm Kaufmann

September 30, 1953


Lovis Corinth, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele

May 27, 1953


A Grandma Moses Album

Recent Paintings, 1950-1953

April 15, 1953


Streeter Blair

American Primitive

February 26, 1953


Paintings on Glass

Austrian Religious Folk Art of the 17th to 19th Centuries

December 4, 1952


Hasan Kaptan

Paintings of a Ten-Year-Old Turkish Painter

October 29, 1952


Margret Bilger

May 10, 1952


American Natural Painters

March 31, 1952


Ten Years of New York Concert Impressions by Eugen Spiro; Four New Paintings by

January 26, 1952


I-Fa-Wei

Watercolors of New York by a Chinese Artist

December 1, 1951


Käthe Kollwitz

October 25, 1951


Drawings and Watercolors by Austrian Children

May 21, 1951


Grandma Moses

Twenty-Five Masterpieces of Primitive Art

March 17, 1951


Roswitha Bitterlich

January 18, 1951


Oskar Laske

Watercolors of Vienna and the Salzkammergut

October 14, 1950


Tenth Anniversary Exhibition

Part II

May 11, 1950


Austrian Art of the 19th Century

From Wadlmüller to Klimt

April 1, 1950


Chiao Ssu-Tu

February 18, 1950


Anton Faistauer

January 1, 1950


Tenth Anniversary Exhibition

Part I

November 30, 1949


Autograph Exhibition

October 26, 1949


Gladys Wertheim Bachrach

May 24, 1949


Oskar Kokoschka

March 30, 1949


Eugen Spiro

February 19, 1949


Frans Masereel

January 13, 1949


Ten Years Grandma Moses

November 22, 1948


Käthe Kollwitz

Masterworks

October 18, 1948


American Primitives

June 3, 1948


Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition

April 5, 1948


Miriam Richman

February 7, 1948


Vally Wieselthier

Memorial Exhibition

January 10, 1948


Christmas Exhibition

December 4, 1947


Fritz von Unruh

November 10, 1947


Käthe Kollwitz

October 4, 1947


Grandma Moses

May 17, 1947


Lovis Corinth

April 16, 1947


Hugo Steiner-Prag

March 15, 1947


Mark Baum

January 11, 1947


Eugen Spiro

November 25, 1946


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

May 17, 1946


Ladis W. Sabo

Paintings by a New Primitive Artist

April 8, 1946


Georges Rouault

The Graphic Work

February 26, 1946


Käthe Kollwitz

Memorial Exhibition

November 21, 1945


Fred E. Robertson

Paintings by an American Primitive

June 13, 1945


Max Liebermann

The Graphic Work

April 18, 1945


Vienna through Four Centuries

March 1, 1945


Eugen Spiro

January 20, 1945


Grandma Moses

New Paintings

December 5, 1944


Käthe Kollwitz

Part II

October 26, 1944


A Century of French Graphic Art

From Géricault to Picasso

September 28, 1944


Max Liebermann

Memorial Exhibition

June 9, 1944


Juan De'Prey

Paintings by a Self-Taught Artist from Puerto Rico

May 6, 1944


Abraham Levin

April 15, 1944


Lesser Ury

Memorial Exhibition

March 21, 1944


Grandma Moses

Paintings by the Senior of the American Primitives

February 9, 1944


Betty Lane

January 11, 1944


WaIt Disney Cavalcade

December 9, 1943


Käthe Kollwitz

Part I

November 3, 1943


Will Barnet

September 29, 1943


Lovis Corinth

May 26, 1943


Josephine Joy

Paintings by an American Primitive

May 3, 1943


Oskar Kokoschka

Aspects of His Art

March 31, 1943


Eugen Spiro

February 13, 1943


Seymour Lipton

January 18, 1943


Illuminated Gothic Woodcuts

Printed and Painted, 1477-1493

December 5, 1942


Abraham Levin

November 4, 1942


Walt Disney Originals

September 23, 1942


Documents which Relate History

Documents of Historical Importance and Landmarks of Human Development

June 10, 1942


Honoré Daumier

April 29, 1942


Bertha Trabich

Memorial Exhibition of a Russian-American Primitive

March 25, 1942


Alfred Kubin

Master of Drawing

December 4, 1941


Egon Schiele

November 7, 1941


Betty Lane

June 3, 1941


Flowers from Old Vienna

18th and Early 19th Century Flower Painting

May 7, 1941


Weavings by Navaho and Hopi Indians and Photos of Indians by Helen M. Post

January 29, 1941


Georg Merkel

November 7, 1940


What a Farm Wife Painted

Works by Mrs. Anna Mary Moses

October 9, 1940


Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940


American Abstract Art

May 22, 1940


Franz Lerch

May 1, 1940


Wilhelm Thöny

April 3, 1940


French Masters of the 19th and 20th Centuries

February 29, 1940


H. W. Hannau

Metropolis, Photographic Studies of New York

February 2, 1940


Oskar Kokoschka

January 9, 1940


Austrian Masters

November 13, 1939


ANIMALS & US

The Animal in Contemporary Art

April 1, 2004 - May 22, 2004

ARTISTS

Applebroog, Ida

Beuys, Joseph

Coe, Sue

Craven, Ann

Crewdson, Gregory

Dion, Mark

Ford, Walton

Fritsch, Katherina

Golub, Leon

Hujar, Peter

Koons, Jeff

Mann, Sally

Noelker, Frank

Pondick, Rona

Rockman, Alexis

Schrager, Victor

Smith, Kiki

Sugimoto, Hiroshi

Wegman, William

ESSAY

In the Old Testament, it is written that man shall have dominion over all the animals. For millennia, humans have followed this prescription, hunting wild animals, usurping their habitats and domesticating certain species for the purposes of providing food or labor. After two centuries of industrialization, however, there is little unspoiled wilderness, and very few inhabitants of the Western world have regular contact with farm animals. It is perhaps no coincidence that the industrialization of animal husbandry was accompanied by a dramatic increase in the importance of pet ownership. Indeed, for some today the very phrase pet ownership is anathema: these are animal companions, quasi-family members whose presence in our lives not only restores a vital connection to the natural environment, but, because of the heightened intimacy, fundamentally alters the nature of our emotional engagement with non-human creatures. Born from the alienation of modern life, this empathy may, paradoxically, offer a possibility of redemption.

 

Over the last three to four decades, a number of people have begun to question the hierarchies that traditionally placed humans above allegedly lesser species, and these concerns gradually permeated the art of the period. Steve Baker, whose book The Postmodern Animal (2000) is a seminal survey of its topic, notes that the resurgence of animal imagery in contemporary art coincided with the birth of the animal rights movement in the 1970s. While animals had been a recurrent if not dominant motif in Western art through the 19th century, the subject was of surprisingly little interest to early 20th-century modernists. With a few notable exceptions (such as Franz Marcs vibrant cows and horses), the modern avant garde either used animals as mere pretexts for formal experimentation or ignored them entirely. However, by June 2000 the situation had changed so dramatically that The New York Times could announce, "Animals Have Taken Over Art."

 

Joseph Beuys was among the first contemporary artists to engage animal subject matter in a sustained, substantive manner. How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965) and Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me (1974) were attempts to establish meaningful dialogues with animals that occupy positions of central importance in Eurasian and American mythology respectively. Beuys repeatedly affirmed his personal identification with the hare, which even dead, seemed to him more aesthetically responsive than many humans. By confining himself for a week with a live coyote, the artist endeavored to access invisible spiritual energies that, while common to people and animals alike, have been largely effaced by the mechanistic and materialistic preoccupations of modern-day human society. The coyote--revered by Native Americans for its ability to morph from physical to spiritual form, and persecuted by white colonialists--was also emblematic of humankind's tendency to project feelings of inferiority onto a minority or other scapegoat. Beuys saw his involvement with animals both as a way to harness latent spiritual powers and as a means to heal the ancient wounds produced by toxic assertions of racial superiority.

 

In his work, Beuys introduced two strands of inquiry that have remained important for subsequent artists: the exploration of the animal/human divide, and the political implications of that divide. Whereas the coyote action was a direct exchange between man and animal, many contemporary artists recognize that our relationships with animals are invariably mediated by prior pictorial conventions and prejudices. The language of representation thus figures prominently in much recent art. A number of artists have toyed with the sentimentality that infuses popular animal imagery. By decapitating and bisecting his Split Rocker, Jeff Koons distances the hobbyhorse from its comforting nursery context. Massive scale is another way of subliminally subverting such kitsch icons--used by Koons in the flower-covered Puppy that was installed as an unofficial adjunct to the 1992 Documenta exhibition near Kassel, Germany, and in 2000 at New York's Rockefeller Center. Ann Craven's pastel-hued bird paintings similarly undercut Disneyesque references by hugely magnifying their diminutive subjects. In this manner, Craven raises questions about domestication and the means whereby once wild species cohabit in the human environment.

 

Birds appeal to contemporary artists because they seem so intrinsically wild, and because they have long been admired for their beauty and as symbols of freedom. One cannot, of course, approach avian subject matter in the U.S. without conjuring the ghost of John James Audubon. A conqueror of nature active at the same time that European settlers were annihilating the native inhabitants of the American West, Audubon routinely killed his subjects before drawing them. As such, he encapsulates the limitations and implicit aggressiveness of the scientific approach. Love/hate for Audubon infuses the work of Walton Ford, who emulates the master's exquisite technical precision while at the same time twisting this methodology to expose the predations of colonialism. In Benjamin's Emblem, a wild turkey (Franklin's nominee for national bird) nonchalantly spears a far smaller parakeet with its massive talons.

 

The scientific process of naming (and thereby asserting dominance over) animals is the jumping-off point for Victor Schrager's beautifully photographed Hand Book of Birds. Like Audubon, who set out to draw every bird in America, Schrager initially conceived of his project as the literal fleshing out of a list of names. His birds, however, were not harmed in the process. On the contrary, each subject is handled professionally in the manner appropriate to its species. Nonetheless, the subordination of Schrager's birds--to their handlers, to their human-given names, and to the photographers lens--is the leitmotif of the entire series.

 

Scientific methodology is also the leitmotif of Hiroshi Sugimoto's photographs of the dioramas at New Yorks Museum of Natural History. Dating to the 1930s, these dioramas were once thought to represent the epitome of scientific accuracy, regardless of whether they portrayed prehistoric or extant species. By today's standards of verisimilitude, however, the dioramas look stilted and artificial. Sugimoto's photographs inject new artistic life into these fabricated environments, while at the same time calling into question our ability to ever definitively capture the wildness of nature.

 

The diorama concept is turned on its head in Frank Noelker's Zoo Portraits. Here, the animals are real, but their surroundings are obviously artificial. These environments are in many cases designed to convince a human audience that the animals remain in their natural habitats, though the animals themselves are unlikely to be fooled. Yet as the primatologist Jane Goodall points out in her introduction to Noelker's forthcoming book, the human intervention that whisks animals from their original habitats is not invariably pernicious. Human incursions into those habitats are sometimes even more destructive, and the survival of some species may depend on their nurturance by enlightened zookeepers. Noelker's animals, with their mute dignity, reflect our conflicted relationship to nature: the animals cannot in most cases go back, and it is not clear how they, or we, are to move forward.

 

A slightly different approach to science is taken by Alexis Rockman, who prides himself on the clinical accuracy with which he researches and renders his subjects. Though art is ostensibly subjective and science objective, Rockman calls into question the veracity of this dichotomy by willfully commingling the two approaches. Like an illustration in a zoology textbook, his painting Prairie shows in cut-away form the creatures burrowing below the surface of a Mid-Western landscape. The above-ground scenery alludes to the Edenic visions of the American West painted by such 19th-century artists as Albert Bierstadt, but the barrenness of the topography suggests that this may actually be an Apocalyptic, posthuman tableau. The teeming action is all underground, amongst the surviving insects and rodents. Despite their bucolic surroundings, Rockman considers the ground squirrels in his painting to be essentially urban animals, whose nest-building and colonization of tunnels dug by other species parallels human activities. The blurring of categories--art/science, animal/human--is thus carried through thematically as well as aesthetically.

 

Kiki Smith is another artist who employs the pictorial language of multiple disciplines--including anatomy, anthropology, mythology and religion--to reestablish the bond between animals and humans that was lost through industrialization. Her turn to animal subject matter was triggered by the death, from pesticide poisoning, of a flock of crows in New Jersey, and her work (which she refers to as a kind of Noah's Ark) has a redemptive, preservationist subtext. At the same time, many of her animals appear damaged: They can be patched back together but never made fully whole again. In her series Butterfly, Bat, Turtle, Smith pastes wings or a shell over her own image, creating awkward, imperfect hybrids. "I found this anthropomorphizing interesting," she has said. "The human attributes we give to animals, and the animal attributes we take on as humans construct our identity."

 

Animal-human hybrids such as centaurs and mermaids have long figured in mythology, but they take on new significance for such contemporary artists as Kiki Smith and Rona Pondick. While working on a series of sculptures in which her own face was melded to the bodies of various animals, Pondick was startled to encounter a news photo of a mouse that had been genetically modified to grow a human ear. Science today not only merges species, but has demonstrated that relatively few genes separate humans from other animals. Increased attention to illnesses transmitted from animals to humans, including West Nile virus, SARS and BSE (mad cow disease), further highlights the permeability of the boundaries separating us from other species. The animal-human hybrid has become a special kind of monster, alluding to our primordial ties with nature while simultaneously triggering fears that science's cross-species transgressions may yield terrifying consequences.

 

Of all the artists in the present exhibition, Sue Coe addresses these fears most directly. Strongly committed to animal rights, she believes that the industrialization of animal husbandry has not only removed food animals from our midst but has altered the nature of farming in ways that are both unspeakably cruel to the animals and harmful to people. She sees a connection between animals and weaker human beings, all of whom are literally or figuratively chewed up by an amoral capitalist system. In this sense, biotechnology and agribusiness are part of a single continuum. The genetically modified animals depicted in It Got Away from Them are the products of a corrupt and dangerous science. For her Porkopolis series (published in book form as Dead Meat, 1996), Coe infiltrated factory farms and slaughterhouses in order to expose the processes concealed therein. Whereas in earlier works, like Dog of War, the artist used animals metaphorically, she now feels it is crucial to depict animals as they are.

 

The closest regular contact that most people today have with animals comes from our interactions with pets. Ida Applebroog's Dog with Hat and Dahu both depict dogs in quasi-human guise: one with clothing, the other with crutches. These works remind us that some pets are treated like surrogate children, and that veterinary medicine can now replicate many of the cures once reserved for humans. The animal rights activist Tom Reagan has criticized William Wegman for similarly dressing up his famous weimaraners, claiming that the photographer denies them their innate doggishness. In truth, Wegman's photographs are far more complex than this. The weimaraners are clearly well trained by their master, but the work itself represents the collaborative symbiosis that is the hallmark of the new pet: the animal as equal participant in a cooperative dynamic.

 

Sally Mann's memorial to her dead greyhound, Eva, is a far more disturbing investigation of the bond between people and their pets. This series of photographs depicts the dog's pelt, which Mann preserved, and bones, which she dug up a year after the animal died. Mann lives on a farm, and therefore remains close to agricultural processes, like tanning and taxidermy, that have become alien to most urbanites. The Eva photos also reference more archaic traditions, such as the preservation of saints bones and other human relics. Though some people live with the ashes of both family members and pets, there is nonetheless a tendency to recoil at these photos, to ask ourselves: Would one do this to a beloved child? Wherein lies the difference? Mann is negotiating the treacherous territory that separates us from the otherness of animals and the other-worldliness of death.

 

The reification of the other is a recurrent theme in modern and postmodern art, and it is always inherently political. Whereas some contemporary artists have attempted to assimilate the spiritual authenticity of animals, early 20th-century modernists sought inspiration beyond the sphere of European culture, in non- Western countries and in the work of self-taught local artists. In each instance, the other was seen by artists as an alternative or corrective to the dominant power structure. However, just as the early modernists flirtation with primitivism is today viewed as a condescending exercise in cultural colonialism, the postmodern reverence for the animal other can never escape its human-centric origins.

 

We cannot help but see animals from a human vantage point, and therefore in some sense all the works in the present exhibition are actually about us. As Steve Baker notes, humans will never be able to depict the essence of a real animal, because animals are fundamentally unknowable to us. However, from a less theoretical perspective, there is no denying that animals are real. They may function as our pets, or as our dinner, or they may roam freely in a natural realm that is increasingly encroached upon by human intervention. Regardless, they are obviously real. Arguably a dog, which telegraphs its likes and dislikes fairly distinctly, is more completely knowable than a human companion, who commands a more complex range of emotions. The belief that the animal is inherently unknowable bespeaks a failure of both imagination and of compassion. It is akin to that distancing of the other which leads to genocide.

 

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the many colleagues who made this exhibition possible, as well as to Sue Coe, Don Hanson, Frank Noelker, Alexis Rockman and the William Wegman studio. This exhibition coincides with the publication by the Illinois University Press of Frank Noelker's book Captive Beauty: Zoo Portraits (with a foreword by Jane Goodall and an introduction by Nigel Rothfels). Frank Noelker will be present at the gallery to sign copies of his book on Wednesday, May 19, from 6 to 8 PM. The book may also be ordered from the gallery for $50.00 in hardcover, or $25.00 in paperback. Copies of Sue Coe's Dead Meat (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996; with an introduction by Alexander Cockburn) are available for $40.00 in hardcover, or $22.00 in paperback. If you order by mail, please add $8.00 per book to cover shipping and handling; New York residents, also add sales tax.