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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


ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER

Featuring Watercolors and Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection

March 29, 2016 - July 1, 2016

ARTISTS

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

ESSAY

“Ecstatic drawing is the foundation of the new art” –E.L. Kirchner, 1919

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), cofounder and erstwhile leader of the North-German Brücke (Bridge) group, has been called the quintessential Expressionist. But Expressionism (a descriptor Kirchner himself repudiated) is remarkably difficult to define. It is believed that the first appearance of this label in a contemporary context occurred in the introduction to a 1911 catalogue featuring French painters like Braque, Derain and Picasso. The term refers most broadly to art that, in contrast to Impressionism, looks beyond surface appearance. Expressionism only came to be identified as a specifically German brand of modernism under the nationalistic pressures generated by World War I. Nonetheless, even in Germany the genre assumed different guises in different places and at different times.

 

German Expressionism can be divided into a prewar, utopian phase, associated with Die Brücke and the Munich-based Blauer Reiter (Blue Rider) group, and a dystopian phase, associated with Weimar-era artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and George Grosz. (Though the latter contingent also blends into the equally ill-defined movement known as Neue Sachlichkeit [New Objectivity].) Kirchner, whose personal and artistic life was fundamentally shaken by World War I, exemplified both the utopian and the dystopian tendencies that were central to German art of the period. Ultimately he transcended labels. “The man,” Kirchner said of himself, “is simply a painter.”

 

Neither Kirchner nor the three other Brücke founders were originally painters. In fact, neither he, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel nor Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who met while studying architecture at the Technical College of Saxony in Dresden, had much formal training in art. They taught one another as they taught themselves, sharing studios, models and influences in pursuit of common, albeit vaguely articulated goals. Kindred spirits were invited to join Die Brücke as active or passive members (who provided financial support by subscribing to the group’s annual print portfolio). Additional artists, most notably Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde and Hermann Max Pechstein, came and went.

 

Some months after Die Brücke’s establishment in June 1905, Kirchner created a pair of woodcuts setting forth the group’s program. Like the slightly earlier Austrian Secession and the popular Munich periodical Jugend, the Brücke artists advocated a youthful new approach to art. “We call upon the young,” they declared, “who will bear the future, who want freedom in our work and in our lives, independence from older established forces.” The most frequently cited source for the group’s name is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "What is great in man is that he is a bridge, not a goal." The Brücke artists saw themselves simultaneously as a bridge to the future and a bridge between Germany and the rest of the world. Equally important for Kirchner were the linkages between art and life, and between the visible and the invisible. These metaphysical bridges would resonate in his work long after Die Brücke had disbanded.

 

The Brücke artists shared an idealistic belief in the transformative power of art and a contempt for bourgeois civilization. Common among fin-de-siècle intellectuals, the latter impulse can be traced to the eighteenth-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who had extolled the primordial virtues of “natural man.” The Brücke’s notion of progress was thus backward looking, entailing the return to an innocence that they recognized in the art of “primitive” societies (which influenced Kirchner’s work and his self-made studio decor) and in the Edenic landscape at the Moritzburg ponds (where the group regularly vacationed). The urban studio and the rural retreat each offered a refuge from conventional society. Here naked women cavorted freely, seemingly unburdened by any residue of Christian shame. Young girls were portrayed as avatars of prelapsarian purity, titillating yet chaste. Like little Eves, they appear unaware of their nudity. The goal, in Kirchner’s words, was to depict “free human beings in free naturalness.”

 

The Brücke models—neighborhood children, friends and girlfriends—worked together with the artists in a spirit of bohemian camaraderie. Kirchner and his colleagues favored fifteen-minute poses, which forced them to make quick, shorthand notations. Rejecting the ponderous academic approach, the Brücke artists forswore interior modeling in favor of bold contour drawing. To translate three-dimensional subjects into two-dimensional representations, Kirchner developed a vocabulary of abbreviated forms. He referred to these as hieroglyphs, “not in the sense of a word, in which a particular form invariably stands for the self-same object,” but rather as images that “suggest significance to the beholder as the written word ‘horse’ presents the form of a horse to the eyes.” Insofar as they were universally comprehensible, Kirchner believed his hieroglyphs could overcome the limitations of verbal language, erasing barriers of culture, nationality, race and religion.

 

Beyond their immediate circle, the Brücke artists favored subjects observed at cabarets, circuses and variety shows. The scantily clad, uninhibited performers evinced a disdain for bourgeois prudery that resonated with Brücke sensibilities. These entertainments instilled in Kirchner a lifelong love of dance, which evoked the same primal rituals he admired in non-Western tribal art. Crucially important for him was the opportunity to sketch the human figure in motion, building upon the spontaneity of the fifteen-minute studio studies. “My painting is a painting of movement,” Kirchner declared. “I find the observation of movement especially inspirational. From this comes a heightened feeling for life, which is the origin of all artistic creation.” The artist distilled the multiple views offered by a moving body into singular forms. Noting that movement takes place in time as well as space, the scholar Gerd Presler remarks that Kirchner proceeded organically from the three- to the two-dimensional, and then on to the fourth dimension.

 

Just as he preferred moving models, Kirchner himself moved as he drew, changing position or walking through town with a sketchbook in hand. He drew every day and nearly everywhere he went, filling at least 180 sketchbooks, over 12,000 sheets. Most often he used pen and ink, which facilitated expressively inflected lines; or pencil, or both. Color might be added later. Emotional emphasis frequently overrode realistic proportions. The artist strove to capture what he repeatedly referred to as “the ecstasy of first sight”: the feelings evoked by an initial visual encounter. “Sometimes,” he explained, “the great secret that lies beneath all the happenings and things in our environment becomes fleetingly perceptible…. We can never express it concretely, but only give it symbolic form.” Kirchner wanted to “make visible the invisible.”

 

Drawing is the key to Kirchner’s art, and his sketches are the key to his drawings. But the sketches should not be viewed as studies per se. Rather, the sketches birthed new forms, conceived in the throes of “ecstatic” experience, that “crystallized and hardened” in subsequent pictures. As Kirchner worked through the initial forms, he hoped to develop images that had even more strength and impact than the triggering experience. The artist’s search for “definitive forms” led him into printmaking, which he believed released “energies that remain unused in the much more lightweight processes of drawing or painting.” Worked on over a period of time, the plate, stone or block allowed a consolidation of “individual stages…into a single result… achieving the ultimate in expression.”

 

Kirchner was acutely sensitive to the characteristics specific to each printmaking medium: the texture of the wooden block; the spongy surface of the lithographic stone (which he enhanced with turpentine); the use of both single and multiple matrices to add color. His first love was woodcut, because of its kinship to tribal carving as well as its relationship to the illustrious German tradition of Dürer. Etching plates, which could be carried as easily as sketchbooks, facilitated a more spontaneous, “hieroglyphic” approach. Lithographic stones had the disadvantage of being costly and heavy. But they were reusable and thus could be shared among the Brücke artists. Kirchner eschewed transfer processes and always pulled his own prints, producing very small editions. “Only an artist who brings love and skill to the craft should make graphics,” he opined. “Only if the artist pulls the prints personally does the work deserve to be called original.”

 

In 1908, Pechstein moved to Berlin, a much larger city than Dresden with many more professional opportunities. Nevertheless, Die Brücke continued to function as a unit. Pechstein joined his comrades for their summer excursions to Moritzburg, and the Dresden-based contingent made regular visits to Berlin. In 1910, after Die Brücke’s submissions were rejected by the Berlin Secession, Pechstein brought the group into the Neue Secession, of which he was president. The following year, Kirchner, Heckel and Schmitt-Rottluff decided to join Pechstein and Mueller in Berlin. Kirchner rented a studio in the same building as Pechstein, where the two planned to open an art school.

 

The move to Berlin in 1911 did give Die Brücke more exhibition possibilities, but the competitive environment fostered new tensions. Kirchner’s and Pechstein’s art school failed within a matter of months. Already in 1907, Bleyl and Nolde had resigned from the organization. In 1912 Pechstein was forced out because he had violated Brücke policy by exhibiting without the others. The final blow came in 1913, when Kirchner was accused by the remaining members of writing a self-serving history of the group. Die Brücke officially disbanded in May of that year.

 

The dissolution of Die Brücke sent Kirchner into an emotional tailspin. Gone were his dreams of creative camaraderie, his hope of seamlessly melding art and life. Furthermore, without the Brücke brand, Kirchner found himself eclipsed on the Berlin art scene. The influential dealer Herwarth Walden passed him over in favor of the Italian Futurists and the more abstract variant of Expressionism practiced by Der Blaue Reiter. The frenetic pace of Berlin, streets teeming with people and cars at all hours, further exacerbated the artist’s feelings of alienation. The primitivist fantasies of Dresden and Mortizberg dimmed before the inexorable forces of modern civilization. Kirchner later called this period the “loneliest” of his life.

 

Nonetheless, Kirchner executed some of his most iconic work in Berlin, transitioning from the communal Brücke style to a more personal mode of expression. In Dresden, the Brücke artists had admired the work of Van Gogh and Matisse (whom they unsuccessfully solicited for membership), but in Berlin Kirchner was exposed to a far broader range of contemporary art, including Cubism, Futurism and the attenuated, androgynous figures of the German sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Kirchner, who vehemently denied any suggestion of outside influence, attributed his change of style to a change of models: the “soft, Saxon physique” of his Dresden girlfriend, Doris (“Dodo”) Grosse, was replaced by the “architectonically constructed, severely formed bodies” of a new girlfriend, Erna Schilling, and her sister Gerda. Kirchner’s lines became more jagged, and instead of focusing on single subjects, he began to sketch the interactions among multiple figures, formulating what Presler terms “Gesamt-Hieroglyphen” (comprehensive hieroglyphs).

 

The foregoing emotional and stylistic upheavals reached their apogee in Kirchner’s Berlin street scenes, the subject between 1913 and ‘15 of some eleven paintings and countless prints and drawings. More than mere depictions of a modern metropolis, these works capture the spirit of modernity itself. They are intensely and intentionally ambiguous, juxtaposing evocations of glamour and excitement with intimations of danger and disease. Once it becomes clear that the haughty, elegant women who dominate the streetscapes are in fact prostitutes, the commodification of desire emerges as a significant subtext. Yet unlike Dix and Grosz, who were obsessed with prostitution as an emblem of Weimar-era degradation, Kirchner avoids moralizing. He capitulates to the power of the city.

 

Despite the support of Erna Schilling, who would remain his lifelong companion, Kirchner’s sense of crisis deepened during the Berlin years. His inchoate terror of modern civilization assumed specific focus with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He began drinking heavily—Erna said, to avoid becoming “bourgeois”; others later suggested, to avoid military service. Fearing conscription, Kirchner voluntarily enlisted in the summer of 1915. Upon reporting for duty, he almost immediately suffered a breakdown, and by November he had been declared unfit to serve. In December, he was admitted to the Kohnstamm Sanatorium at Königstein im Taunus for the treatment of alcoholism and addiction to the sleeping medication Veronal. Two further stays at the sanatorium followed in 1916. His physical and mental fragility notwithstanding, however, Kirchner produced a number of powerful self-portraits and portraits during this period.

 

Worried that he might still be recalled to active duty, Kirchner in early 1917 left Germany for neutral Switzerland, where he entered a sanatorium run by a friend’s father-in-law. That summer, accompanied by a nurse, he rented a cabin on the Stafelalp, south of Davos. Though unable to leave his bed, Kirchner took solace from the landscape outside his window. “It is very peaceful here,” he wrote. “The high mountains will help me.” Gradually the artist’s health improved, and when the war ended, he decided to remain in Switzerland. The Stafelalp would become his regular summer retreat. For the colder months, he found a spacious farmhouse at the base of the mountain, near Frauenkirch. Erna Schilling continued to take care of her lover’s affairs in Germany, traveling periodically back and forth to Frauenkirch. In 1921, she joined the artist permanently in Switzerland, and the following year his Berlin studio was dismantled.

 

In the Swiss Alps, Kirchner discovered a harmony between humankind and nature that echoed his earlier primitivist ideals. “The contours of the mountains flow together with the clusters of people,” he observed. “Their strong faces, partly covered by large black hats, have the same forms as the pine trees.” In this setting, the gesamt-hieroglyph acquired a deeper meaning, the formal symbiosis of subject and ground suggesting a transcendent spiritual unity. The alpine way of life appeared timeless, and the giant Tinzenhorn loomed over everything like a protective roof. Kirchner compared this mountain to the ancient pyramids: an enduring icon linking the past to the present and future. The Tinzenhorn, Presler notes, was eternity made visible; it was the ultimate hieroglyph.

 

Many observers have detected a decrease in the eroticism of Kirchner’s later work, seen already in the angular nudes and cool prostitutes of the Berlin period. To some extent, this can be attributed to the artist’s maturation and to his deepening relationship with Erna Schilling. “The youthful, purely sexual connection to women has turned into camaraderie,” Kirchner explained. In 1921, he met the dancer Nina Hard in Zurich and brought her back to Frauenkirch for the summer. She and Erna shared what must have been an awkward idyll, posing together naked in the mountain landscape. Kirchner’s love of the moving figure was rekindled by a 1926 visit to Dresden, where he sketched the dancers Gret Palucca and Mary Wigman. However, there were no comparable performers, avant-garde cabarets or variety shows in Davos. Kirchner drew the locals dancing at the Café Schneider, but their movements were rote, their bodies concealed by conventional clothing.

 

Kirchner was not totally isolated in Davos. He traveled to larger Swiss cities, and starting in 1925-26, back to Germany. His work was widely exhibited in both countries, and he was visited regularly by art-world luminaries. Prolific publications furthered his reputation, and in 1931 he was made a member of the Prussian Academy in Berlin. Though Kirchner refused to have anything to do with the former members of Die Brücke, he maintained an interest in contemporary artists, especially Pablo Picasso. Under the latter’s influence, and also that of a local Swiss weaver, Lise Gujer (who made tapestries based on his designs), Kirchner’s style became flatter and more abstract. Still, he never abandoned his commitment to recognizable subject matter. “All art needs the visible world and will always need it,” he declared, “because, being accessible to all, it is the key to all other worlds.”

 

The advent of Hitler in 1933 brought an end to Kirchner’s professional efflorescence. The Prussian Academy immediately asked for his resignation, but did not forcibly expel him until 1937. That same year, 639 of the artist’s works were removed from German museums and either sold abroad or destroyed. The Nazis reawakened all Kirchner’s old fears: the critical rejection of his art; the barbarism of modern civilization; the prospect of an annihilating war. After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, he no longer felt safe in nearby Davos. He began destroying his work. In May he proposed marriage to Erna Schilling, then hastily withdrew the offer. On June 15, following an unsuccessful attempt to enlist Erna in a mutual suicide pact, Kirchner shot himself twice in the heart. He died almost instantly.

 

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Erna Kirchner, who obtained the legal right to use the artist’s surname, became the keeper of his legacy. In 1943, when she was renovating their home near Frauenkirch, she gave a number of her late partner’s sketchbooks and sketches to Lise Gujer. After Erna’s death in 1945, Kirchner’s remaining sketches were acquired by Gujer, and many were subsequently sold. The thirty sketches that form the core of the present exhibition were purchased in 1959 from a Cologne gallery on behalf of Robert Lehman by his representative, Charles Lock. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Prof. Dr. Gerd Presler for his gracious assistance in dating and cataloguing these drawings. Warmest thanks also to Prof. Dr. Günther Gercken for his help cataloguing the Kirchner prints, to the family of Robert Lehman, and to an additional anonymous lender. The Galerie St. Etienne’s Associate Director, Elizabeth Marcus, provided further invaluable research.