Past Exhibitions

All Good Art is Political

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe

October 26, 2017 - March 10, 2018

Recent Acquisitions

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 11, 2017 - October 13, 2017

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

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

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


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


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

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 America 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


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


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


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


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


Communism in Germany Between the World Wars

March 25, 2008 - June 13, 2008



Grosz, George

Grundig, Lea

Heartfield, John

Keil-Gü, A.

Kollwitz, Käthe


Malsov, A.

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Steiner-Prag, Hugo


In the years between the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918 and Adolf Hitler's ascension to power in January 1933, Germany became a battleground for the most volatile ideologies of the twentieth century. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which before World War I had been the largest socialist party in Europe, only reluctantly endorsed the Kaiser's abdication and the resultant establishment of Germany's first democratic republic, based in the city of Weimar. Friedrich Ebert, the SPD leader who became the Weimar Republic's first president, was soon accused of betraying socialism because of his alliances with the military/industrial establishment. The German Left fragmented, its most radical members pushing for soviet-style Communism. The threat of Communism, in turn, galvanized the Right. Old-line aristocrats and militarists joined with toxic nationalists, anti-Semites, the frightened bourgeoisie and a growing mass of the unemployed to back Hitler's National Socialist Party. As tensions mounted in the early 1930s, the Communist Party was both the last bulwark against fascism and a cause of its success.


In this turbulent atmosphere, the aesthetic experiments of the prewar Expressionists seemed narcissistically self-indulgent. However, the revolutionary instincts of the Expressionist generation, their disdain for the bourgeoisie and their desire to create new art forms for the modern age, were readily turned to political use by the postwar avant-garde. The majority of these artists backed some form of socialism. The World War had fueled international opposition to capitalism, creating feelings of class solidarity among soldiers who believed they had been sacrificed for the benefit of a safely sequestered ruling class. Harsh conditions on the home front--food shortages, poverty, unemployment, inflation--furthered this sense of class solidarity during and after the war. Artists, such as George Grosz and John Heartfield, who had served in the army were primed to make common cause with the working class. Older artists like Käthe Kollwitz, who had long bemoaned the plight of the poor, welcomed the dawn of a new era. Reflecting optimistically on the Russian revolution of 1917, Kollwitz saw "a hope that from now on people's political development will not be determined only by power, but also by justice."


The early Weimar era was the only period in the history of modern art in which most leading members of the avant-garde sought to engage directly with the broader community. They documented contemporary society in furtherance of a pointed political agenda, believing that the act of bearing witness would inspire constructive change. To this end, they sought to circumvent the conventional means of making and distributing art. Painting was far too bourgeois, too precious, too viscerally marked by the artist's ego. Printmaking, photography and photomechanical reproduction all offered the possibility of reaching a large and ostensibly proletarian audience with inexpensive multiples. The newer techniques, such as photo-montage, also had the advantage of minimizing any traces of the artist's personal touch.


Grosz, Heartfield and Heartfield's brother Wieland Herzfelde, who had met during the war, exploited the latest in typography and graphic design in their collaborative publishing ventures. Their wartime protest magazine Neue Jugend (New Youth) spawned the Malik Verlag in 1917, which in turn published a number of portfolios featuring lithographic reproductions of Grosz's drawings, as well as satirical tabloids such as Jedermann sein eigener Fussball (Everyman His Own Soccer Ball) and Die Pleite (Bankruptcy). Artists' desire to further a leftwing agenda did not escape the notice of actual politicians, who used modern graphics to bring their message to the masses. Kollwitz, Grosz and Heartfield were joined by a retinue of other, often anonymous or pseudonymous, artists who created posters and broadsheets for a variety of causes.


Following the 1918 German revolution, the nation effloresced with a multitude of new artistic and political groups. The Novembergruppe (November Group) and Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Work Council for Art), both in Berlin, and the Dresdner Sezession--Gruppe 19 (Dresden Secession Group 19), in Dresden, were formed to give cultural workers a voice, alongside the more overtly proletarian Workers' and Soldiers' Councils, in shaping the nascent regime's policies. The future direction of the republic would be determined by whether the proletarian councils--fashioned along the lines of Russian soviets--would be allowed to assume direct control of the government. The SPD favored democratic elections with universal suffrage, while the more radical Spartacists believed that "proletarian democracy" was required to wrest control of the nation from the bourgeoisie. To signal their complete break with the SPD, the Spartacists on December 31, 1918, rechristened themselves the Communist Party (KPD). Grosz, Heartfield and Herzfelde were among the first to sign up.


Like their comrades in Russia, the German Communists had difficulty getting Marxist ideology to conform to reality, and vice versa. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had published The Communist Manifesto in 1848, in response to the harsh inequities produced by early nineteenth-century industrialization. Communism, an organic reaction against those inequities, was supposed to follow capitalist industrialization. Communism was not supposed to take root in a backward, largely agrarian country like Russia. Lenin and his Bolshevik supporters worried that their revolution would fail unless it was succeeded and bolstered by revolutions in more industrialized nations, and so they placed great hope in the German Communist Party. However, it turned out that most German workers supported the SPD. The KPD was therefore divided between those who wanted to work within the electoral system and those who wanted to stage an immediate putsch. In January 1919, a poorly organized Communist uprising was brutally suppressed by the Freikorps, a rightwing paramilitary organization brought in by the government. Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the leaders of the KPD, were arrested and murdered.


At the request of Liebknecht's family, Kollwitz sketched the slain leader, a martyr not just to the Communist cause but to the idealistic hopes of the Weimar Republic. As she gradually reworked these sketches over the next two years--first as drawings, then as an etching, then a lithograph and finally a woodcut--the focus shifted from Liebknecht himself to the surrounding crowd of mourners. In the final images, the inert corpse is anything but heroic; the woodcut is a memorial to the bereft public and a statement about the futility of violence. Because Kollwitz was not a Communist, the Party objected to the print, which was sold to establish a fund for indigent workers and artists. "I am no revolutionary, but an evolutionary," Kollwitz explained. "If I were young now, I would certainly be a Communist. . . But I am in my fifties. I have lived through the war and seen . . . thousands of youths die. I am horrified and shattered by all the hate in the world. I long for a socialism that would let people live, and believe that the world has seen enough of murder, lies, destruction, perversion, in short, enough of evil. A Communist regime built on such things cannot be God's work."


Attempts to establish Communist regimes aligned with the Moscow government failed, not just in Germany, but also in Hungary and Austria. Weakened by several years of civil war, the Russian Soviets needed to postpone their plans for worldwide revolution and to establish order at home. In 1921, Lenin asked Willi Münzenberg, a self-styled "professional revolutionary," to set up a German organization to solicit Russian famine relief. The Internationale Arbeiter-Hilfe (International Workers' Aid, or IAH) anticipated the sort of broad-based approach that came to characterize Soviet propaganda in the mid 1920s. Directed from Moscow rather than by the KPD, the IAH continued to fund-raise and to organize cultural events long after the famine was over. The idea--formalized as the "United Front" in 1922--was to encourage support for Communist issues from unaffiliated workers and intellectuals. "Fronts" like the IAH prided themselves on the participation of famous non-Communists, such as Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw and Kollwitz. "Friendship societies" were created abroad to foster sympathetic interest in the Soviet Union. Cultural exchanges--like a 1922 exhibition of Russian art in Berlin and a 1924 show of German art in Moscow--followed.


The campaign to win hearts and minds for the Communist cause naturally seeded a new crop of publications and artists' organizations. Some, like the satirical magazine Der Knüppel (The Cudgel, edited by Grosz and Heartfield between 1923 and 1927) had open ties to the KPD. Others, like theArbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (Workers' Illustrated Newspaper, or AIZ, started by Münzenberg in 1925) did not. The Rote Gruppe (Red Group), of which Grosz was chair and Heartfield secretary, represented leftwing artists and coordinated contributions to the 1924 Moscow exhibition. It was supplanted in 1928 by the Assoziation Revolutionärer Bildender Künstler Deutschlands (Association of Revolutionary German Artists, or ARBKD), often referred to as the ASSO (for Assoziation). Co-founded by Heartfield, the ARBKD was sister to a like-named artists' organization in Moscow. Its mission, mirroring a renewed aggressiveness in Soviet policy, was to "support class war" through the style and content of its members' work.


A zany, almost lighthearted sensibility had distinguished Grosz's and Heartfield's collaborations in the 'teens and early 1920s, when both had been leaders of the iconoclastic Dada movement. Caricature and social commentary were still Grosz's forte, but the exigencies of propaganda demanded a more purposeful, constructive attitude. Grosz was criticized for his negativity, which the Russians considered a reflection of the "sick state of German society," of problems that had (so they claimed) long since vanished in the Soviet Union. However Grosz, who traveled to Russia in 1922, knew the truth. He saw that already the privileges of power were beginning to establish differences in the living standards of Party officials and the average worker. He saw a great artist, Vladimir Tatlin, sharing a squalid apartment with chickens. While Grosz did not expect or demand that utopia should follow immediately on the heels of revolution, he faulted the Soviets for pretending otherwise. Grosz remained loyal to the attempt to realize the Communist dream in Russia and to the cause of social justice at home, but he was constitutionally incapable of lying.


Unlike Grosz, Heartfield continued to enthusiastically champion the Soviets, and his style was somewhat better suited to this purpose. Heartfield was one of the inventors of photomontage, a melding of photography and Cubist collage that proved among the most versatile of the new techniques developed after the First World War. By the late 1920s, with the addition of type, photomontage had become the mainstay of Heartfield's book, magazine and poster designs, as well as a trend in commercial advertising. The AIZ, for which Heartfield designed over 230 photomontages between 1930 and 1938, was one of many popular illustrated magazines that recognized the power of photographs, accompanied by a few well-chosen words, to seduce and convince. Russian artists, searching for the perfect proletarian style, hit upon something they called "polygraphy": a graphic combination of photography and typography. Whereas Heartfield relied on humor and satire like a traditional political cartoonist, the Russians used photomontage more bluntly, to craft grand tributes to Soviet achievement. When he visited the USSR in 1931-32, Heartfield was on the whole well-received by the "polygraphers," though there was some grumbling about whether he or the Russian Gustav Klutsis deserved credit for inventing photomontage. More rigid ideologues, however, pointed to Heartfield's roots in the "decadent" Dada movement and to the obvious similarities between photomontage and bourgeois advertising. As cultural policies hardened under Stalin in the 1930s, the Soviet revolutionaries would increasingly endorse socialist realism--ironically promoting the most retrograde artistic style as the only valid one.


Through the various ups-and-downs and policy shifts that had taken place in the USSR during the 1920s, the Communists had never abandoned hopes of establishing a kindred regime in Germany. The international depression triggered by the American stock-market crash of 1929 seemed to prove Marx's theory that capitalism was destined to self-destruct. At the same time, dire economic conditions--massive unemployment and the curtailment of foreign credit--strengthened the appeal of the Nazi Party.


The early 1930s were punctuated by increasingly severe clashes between the Communists and the Nazis, neither of which had faith in the ability of the elected government to solve Germany's problems. In the 1930 parliamentary elections, both the Nazis and the Communists made enormous gains at the expense of the SPD. The 1932 elections affirmed this trend, and subsequently the politics of proportional representation sealed Germany's fate. The KPD would not countenance a coalition with the SPD, but Hitler was able to obtain the backing of the rightwing National Party and to assume the chancellorship on January 30, 1933.


The fight against fascism now became a cornerstone of Soviet foreign policy, which advocated a "Popular Front" uniting leftwing factions abroad. Heartfield was among those who feared that Nazi Germany would attempt to "save" capitalism by fomenting war, much as had been the case in 1914. He put his abiding faith in the USSR as a bastion of peace and freedom against militaristic totalitarianism. After escaping the SS by jumping from the balcony of his apartment, Heartfield fled to Prague, where he continued to produce photomontages for the AIZ (renamed the Volks-Illustrierte, People's Illustrated, in 1936). When the Nazis began closing in on Prague in 1938, he moved to England. Back in Germany, Hitler quickly shut down all obvious sources of dissident art. The ASSO was dissolved. Avant-garde artists were forbidden to exhibit, and their work was removed from museums. Kollwitz, the first female professor at the Prussian Academy of Art, was stripped of her title and studio. Grosz, who saw the writing on the wall, had accepted a teaching assignment in New York in 1932.


One of the only artists who continued to produce anti-fascist art in Hitler?s Germany was Lea Langer Grundig, a young printmaker who operated in such obscurity that she was, for a time, able to escape notice. Born into a bourgeois Jewish family, she was introduced to radical politics by her future husband, the painter Hans Grundig. In 1926 the couple joined the KPD and in 1928, the same year that they married, the Dresden ASSO chapter. Ironically, it was only after 1933 that Lea came into her own artistically. Hans had somehow acquired an etching press, which she used to create four series of prints documenting conditions in Nazi Germany: Woman's Life, Under the Swastika, The Jew is to Blame and War Threatens! Produced between 1933 and 1937, Grundig's etching cycles gradually take a more polemical approach in their opposition to Hitler. The earlier works, such as the Woman's series, offer blunt social commentary that, while tinged with an intimate feeling for human relationships, can be as harsh as anything penned by Grosz. Some of the strongest works are those in which this sort of acute contextual observation is combined with didactic symbolism. Seen as a group, the prints were both a palpable contradiction of Nazi propaganda and a visceral warning of worse to come. Grundig risked her life to circulate them. In 1938, both she and her husband were arrested. Lea was given permission to emigrate to Palestine, and Hans was sent to a concentration camp.


The Grundigs survived World War II and were reunited in Dresden in 1949. However Hans, riddled with tuberculosis, was a shadow of his former self, and Lea found that the Communist authorities disapproved of her work's "ugliness." Heartfield, too, was viewed with suspicion upon returning to East Germany after the war, both because of his stay in England and because of his ties to Willi Münzenberg, who broke with Stalin over the 1939 Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact. Only after Stalin's death did the climate ease enough for Heartfield and Grundig to be elected to the Academy, in 1956 and 1961 respectively. Grosz, for his part, failed to find happiness in America. His disillusionment with Communism morphed into a more generalized misanthropy, but no matter how shrilly he voiced his complaints, he could not rouse the Americans from their comfortable torpor. Grosz returned to Germany in 1959 and died almost immediately thereafter from a drunken fall. Kollwitz had succumbed to old age in 1945, just a few weeks before the armistice.


Marx believed that in a true Communist society, complete equality would prevail, and everyone would be free to develop to his or her fullest capacities. The realities of Soviet Communism, of course, belied this utopian fantasy. Nevertheless, some of Marx's observations about capitalism were accurate. Capitalism can be enormously destructive. In creating new markets, products and jobs, it annihilates the old; capitalism is inherently unstable, thriving on chaos and change. And insofar as capitalists calculate success in purely monetary terms, they are oblivious to human well-being, values and the environment. The Great Depression was widely taken as a call to balance capitalism's destructive excesses. The New Deal in the U.S. before World War II, and Social Democratic legislation in Europe thereafter, were attempts to temper the harshness inherent in the capitalist system. Today, free-market capitalism is generally considered inseparable from democracy. We are only beginning to recognize that free-market capitalism eventually fosters inequality, and inequality eventually kills democracy. Marx grasped this paradox, but he was no more capable than we are of resolving it.


We would like to convey our warmest thanks to Merrill C. Berman and Richard Simms, whose generous cooperation made this exhibition possible. Checklist entries include catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, image dimensions are given for the prints and full dimensions for all other works, including the posters.