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


His First American Exhibtion

January 17, 2006 - March 18, 2006


Basicevic, Ilija Bosilj

Gazi, Dragan

Generalic, Ivan

Lackovic, Ivan

Lovkovic, Ivana

Rabuzin, Ivan

Sekulic, Sava

Skurjeni, Matija

Vecenaj, Ivan


The artist now known simply as Ilija is one of the most enigmatic painters to emerge from the land formerly known as Yugoslavia. Born Ilija Basicevic in 1895, he received international acclaim in the 1960s and ‘70s under the pseudonym Ilija Bosilj. Despite his impressive exhibition and publication history, however, the Serbian-born Ilija was at the time somewhat overshadowed by the more heavily promoted “naives” from the Yugoslav republic of Croatia. Indeed, his work stands in sharp contrast to the Croatians’ crisply rendered scenes of idyllic peasant life and farmland. Ilija’s subject matter depicts no recognizable world, but rather a nearly abstract parallel universe concocted by the artist from an amalgam of local history, myths, Biblical tales and imagination. Beyond the arena of squabbling “naives,” “outsiders” and “folk” artists, Ilija stands alone, as puzzling as he is compelling.


The field of “naïve” art originated in the early decades of the twentieth century in part as a reaction to Western European industrialization, which was killing off rural folk art along with traditional agriculture. At the same time, industrialization fostered feelings of alienation and a yearning for lost authenticity, which the bourgeois intelligentsia found in the work of lower-class painters who, often for financial reasons, had never dreamed of going to art school. Eastern Europe, by way of contrast, remained predominantly agricultural. In Ilija’s hometown of Sid, some farmers had more land, more pigs and more sheep than others, but these peasants were all relatively equal in terms of education and occupation. The rifts that would come to divide them and eventually shred their entire nation derived less from the pressures of modern development than from centuries of history as a battleground between forces of the East and of the West.


Though Croatians and Serbs are all Slavic peoples who speak the same language, Serbia was incorporated into the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in AD 395, whereas Croatia was ruled by the Western Roman Empire. As a result, Croatia has since been predominantly Catholic, while Serbs tend to adhere to the Eastern Orthodox faith. Serbs are also distinguished by their use of the Cyrillic alphabet, introduced by the Greek priest Cyril in the ninth century. In later centuries, the Ottoman Turks descended upon the Eastern territories of Serbia, while the Hungarians and then the Austrian Habsburgs took over much of Croatia. Sid, in the northwest Serbian province of Vojvodina, came under Austrian domination in the late seventeenth century. The ever-shifting frontier separating the Christian West from the Turks was thereafter roughly twenty miles to the east of Sid, and local farmers were routinely conscripted by the Austrians to patrol the border.


Growing up in this contested terrain, where rule was always arbitrarily imposed from without, Ilija developed a fierce independence of spirit and a lifelong disdain for authority. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a soldier, emigrating to America or apprenticing to a craftsman, but his parents needed his help at home, and so he stayed to take over the family farm. Drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I, Ilija employed several subterfuges to minimize his service. Both he and his brother managed to avoid combat by repeatedly changing places and then running away. Subsequently, Ilija deliberately injured his leg so that he would be hospitalized instead of being sent to the front.


Despite these desultory military experiences, Ilija was not one to shirk his duty. He was an extremely hard worker, rising every day at 3 AM and tending his land and livestock until nightfall. A simple lunch of bread, bacon and onions was eaten in the fields; chicken was a treat reserved for Sundays. The men on Ilija’s street owned a single pair of proper trousers among them, which they shared around for formal occasions. Nevertheless, Ilija was one of the more prosperous peasants in his little community, and he was proud. Although he himself had not gotten beyond the local elementary school, he was well-read and attuned to the latest advances in agriculture. Ilija hoped that his two sons, Dimitrije and Vojin, would receive university educations—something almost unheard of among the local peasant class. But once again, politics and world history intervened.


After the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the South Slavic peoples (“Yugo-Slavs” in Serbo-Croatian) were united in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes under the rule of the Serbian Karadjordjevic dynasty. However, this union quickly began to fray. In 1934, the Serbian king, Alexander I, was assassinated by the Ustase, a Croatian fascist group battling for complete independence. During World War II, the kingdom was taken over by the Axis powers, with Hitler controlling Slovenia, northern Croatia and Serbia, and Italy occupying southeastern Croatia and Montenegro. In cooperation with the Nazis, the Ustase soon began systematically exterminating Jews, gypsies and Serbs. The fascists made a particular point of targeting the wealthier and more educated peasants. In 1941, Ilija and a number of fellow villagers were herded into the basement of the local church. Half this group was beaten and then shot by the banks of the Danube, while the other half, including Ilija, was released after a few days without further explanation. Following this narrow escape, however, it was clear to Ilija that his days in Sid were numbered. The Ustase’s police chief, who was married to a childhood friend of Ilja’s, advised him and his sons to get out.


In October 1942, Ilija, Dimitrije and Vojin fled to Vienna, choosing that city because it was on a direct railway line. There, they easily found work in an airplane factory. However, after several months, Ilija was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Told he had only a few months to live, and worried about his wife and home, he returned to Sid, where he remained under regular surveillance by the Ustase. But before leaving, Ilija fulfilled one of his long-cherished dreams: he enrolled his two sons in the University of Vienna. Vojin and Dimitrije remained in Vienna until 1944, when they joined up with Tito’s partisans to fight the fascist occupation of their homeland. While the partisans represented the only option available at the time, none of the Basicevic men really supported Tito’s alliance with the Communists. Given their choice, they would have preferred to have the Serbian king back. And so, as the old kingdom was incorporated into the postwar Communist state of Yugoslavia, Ilija and his family once again found themselves at odds with the reigning regime.


Tito’s brand of Communism was somewhat gentler than Stalin’s: foreign travel was not impossible; collectivization was for the most part imposed not through brute force, but through extortionate taxation; dissenters were harassed, but less often sent to labor camps. Nevertheless, Ilija found himself under great pressure to join the local farmers’ collective, because it was believed that, as one of Sid’s more prominent citizens, he would serve as a role model for the others. The political police became a regular presence in his life, and he was repeatedly thrown into jail on trumped-up charges. Although he had recovered from his bout with TB, Ilija was no longer as strong as he had once been, and his sons finally convinced him to donate his land, horses and tools to the collective. Still, Ilija was as stubborn as ever: he refused to work the land that was no longer his, and so forfeited his share of the crops. Fearing starvation, his wife instead labored on the collective, while Ilija took care of their small home. Hereafter, they lived in near poverty.


In the meantime, both Ilija’s sons had completed their university educations. Vojin had become a doctor, and Dimitrije an art historian, critic, poet and artist (exhibiting under the pseudonym Mangelos). Ilija was not happy with Dimitrije’s choice of profession, for he believed artists contributed nothing useful to society; “hollow men,” he called them. Regardless, Dimitrije was to introduce an important new element into his father’s life. During the 1950s, Dimitrije worked as a curator in Zagreb at the Modern Gallery of the Yugoslavian Academy of Arts and Sciences, under the supervision of the artist Krsto Hegedusic. Dimitrije and Hegedusic shared an interest in the work of untrained peasant artists, whom they considered more vital than academic painters. Unfortunately, this shared interest was to develop into a bitter rivalry.


Just as “naïve” painters were being “discovered” in Western European cities during the period between the two world wars, Yugoslavs had in the 1930s organized a group, called “Land,” that united academically educated artists, including Hegedusic, with untrained peasant painters. After the war, Ivan Generalic was hailed as the most important self-taught member of this group. His hometown, the Croatian village of Hlebine, became something of a Mecca for self-taught artists, who often emulated Generalic’s method of painting on the backs of glass panes, a technique that accentuated colors and produced clear, crisp lines. Self-taught painters--including Emerik Fejes, Ivan Rabuzin, Sava Sekulic and Matija Skurjeni--also emerged in other Yugoslav villages and towns. Unlike the Russian Communists, who took a hard line against any type of art that did not conform to their brand of socialist realism, Tito’s regime allowed this home-grown “naïve” art movement to flourish. Recognizing peasants as an important constituency, the Yugoslav Communists had secretly supported “Land” before the war; now they saw both an ideological counter to “decadent” foreign modernism and a potential export commodity in “naïve” art.


As the Yugoslav “naïve” movement gathered steam in the 1950s, Dimitrije Basicevic became one of its most important champions. He organized seminal exhibitions of such major figures as Fejes, Generalic, Rabuzin and Skurjeni, first at the gallery Peasants’ Harmony (where he was co-director) and then at the Gallery of Primitive Art (which he co-founded in 1957). Increasingly, Dimitrije came to challenge Hegedusic’s primacy as the instigator of the peasant artistic renaissance. In particular, Dimitrije questioned Hegedusic’s claim that he had taught Generalic to paint. Given the nastiness of these professional squabbles, Dimitrije was dismayed when his father Ilija suddenly decided, in 1956, to join the growing ranks of peasant painters. Not only did this present an unneeded complication, but Dimitrije did not even like his father’s work: compared to the exquisitely crafted, lyrical images of the Hlebine group, Ilija’s paintings seemed crude and ugly. At first, Dimitrije actually destroyed some of them.


Ilija was not to be dissuaded from his late-life artistic vocation, however, and in time Dimitrije came to appreciate his father’s paintings. Still, Dimitrije faced an undeniable professional conundrum. As the Director of the Gallery of Primitive Art, he could not exhibit his father’s work without being accused of a conflict of interest. And Dimitrije knew that Hegedusic, who had an extensive network of political connections, was just waiting to pounce on him. So Dimitrije came up with a plan that was as ingenious as it was, in retrospect, foolhardy: he instructed Ilija to conceal his artistic activities, and to disguise his artistic identity with a pseudonym. Thus Ilija Basicevic became Ilija Bosilj, taking his new surname from the Croatian island village of Bosiljna, where the family had a vacation retreat. Dimitrije’s goal was to get Hegedusic to endorse Ilija’s paintings on their merits, without knowing the artist’s true identity.


Of course, Dimitrije’s plan backfired. Ilija was not one to keep a secret, so it wasn’t long before everyone knew he was painting. And Hegedusic went beyond accusing Dimitrije of conflict of interest: he declared that Ilija was a fraud. The paintings must have been done by Dimitrije himself, or by Vojin, or perhaps by some of Vojin’s patients at the pediatric clinic where he worked. The entire Serbo-Croatian art world split into two camps, comprising accusers or supporters. Finally, Ilija was called to Zagreb, where he proved himself by painting in front of a tribunal of witnesses. Nonetheless, to publicly clear his name, Ilija had to sue the journalists who had denounced him; only after he had been vindicated in court did the press formally recant.


Although Ilija never received the wholehearted official backing enjoyed by other Yugoslav “naives,” he did go on to exhibit extensively, not just in Zagreb and Belgrade, but in Western European capitals such as Amsterdam, Basel, Bucharest, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Munich, Paris and Rotterdam. Ilija was also championed by the two leading scholars of European “naïve” art, Anatole Jakovsky and Oto Bihalji-Merin. Bihalji-Merin, an internationally renowned art historian who did much to promote the art of his native Yugoslavia, anointed Ilija as one of the most powerful and original of all the postwar “naïves.” In 1971, the year before Ilija’s death, Sid established the Museum of Naïve Art—Ilijanum to honor the work of its native son.


The Yugoslav “naives” benefited internationally from the same desire for authenticity that fueled the ongoing interest in Western European self-taught artists, but Yugoslav peasant painters were much closer to traditional folk art than their counterparts in more industrialized countries. Reverse-glass painting, the technique favored by Generalic and his followers, was a craft historically used for devotional icons. Furthermore, the passing of the technique from generation to generation in Hlebine, while at odds with Western European notions of individualism, was in keeping with the communal nature of folk art. In addition to religious icons and church decorations, Ilija’s immediate artistic influences would have included embroidered towels and tablecloths, painted furniture and the woven wall hangings used to insulate homes in winter. As or perhaps more important than any visual stimuli, however, was the largely oral tradition of Serbian folk tales and history. The stories that Ilija told in his paintings were the same stories that he had told to his boys when they were growing up.


Given Ilija’s avowed disdain for artists, it is hard to understand what prompted him to begin painting. His conflicts with Dimitrije over their respective artistic careers suggest that an element of father/son rivalry may have been involved. Ultimately, of course, it is impossible to know what drives any person to paint. What is clear is that, from the moment he first picked up a brush, Ilija was obsessed. He painted all day, with the same energy he had formerly devoted to farming. He painted far into the night, despite failing vision. He painted everything in sight: the walls of his cottage, the beds, the armoire, little scraps of wood and other chance objects. Professional materials—especially canvas and linseed oil--were hard to come by in Sid, so Ilija painted on whatever was at hand. A printmaker friend volunteered to produce an edition of silk-screens, but could not sell them; so Ilija painted over those.


Ilija’s oeuvre can be loosely grouped according to subject matter: there are Biblical stories, scenes from the Apocalypse, episodes from myth and history, depictions of local animals, birds and the Dzigura (Sid’s main street), and most idiosyncratically, images of winged people and an idyllic parallel universe called Ilijada. These subject groupings are not discreet categories, but rather are interrelated. The flying people are on their way to Ilijada. The Dzigura exists both on earth and in Ilijada. Overall, Ilijada is a paradise that balances and opposes the horrors of the Apocalypse. Given the evil that Ilija had witnessed in his own life, it is understandable that he was obsessed with such dichotomies. His paintings are full of double-headed and two-faced creatures, which represent dualisms, not just of good and evil, but of truth and lies, kindness and aggression, the conscious and the unconscious, the outer and the inner.


Ilija’s symbolism is complex and at times obscure. For example, some of his paintings contain “keys” that represent flowers or refer to the female uterus, but it is not clear what doors or secrets these keys unlock. Animals often perform allegorical functions. The owl, conventionally, represents wisdom. Peacocks (a bird not entirely exotic in Sid, where one of Ilija’s neighbor kept several) are ambassadors: enchanted princes from the time of the Serbian kings, or messengers from the perfect world of Ilijada. Depicting animals came naturally to the farmer Ilija, and their presence in his work further reflects the duality and interconnectedness of the human and natural worlds. Ilija’s paintings might best be interpreted as pictograms: employing a symbolic language to tell tales that defy explication in words.


In this, there are interesting parallels between Ilija’s work and the art produced by his son Dimitrije. Taking the pseudonym Mangelos from the birthplace of a friend who had been killed in World War II, Dimitrije created paintings and globes covered with elegantly scripted words in many languages and colors. Mangelos’s work (exhibited to great acclaim at the 2004-5 Carnegie International) is a metaphorical Tower of Babel, alluding to the ultimate impotence of language. Both father and son had lived through terrible events that belied any available philosophical or ideological rationale, and each artist attempted to grapple with the unfathomable in his work. Because Ilija was a self-taught peasant whose sources were the Bible and Serbian myths, he has traditionally been categorized as a “naïve” artist. Yet his work amply evidences the inadequacy of such labels. “Naïve,” after all, suggests a lack of sophistication, but Ilija was looking to unlock the deepest secrets of life, the mysterious co-existence of good and evil.


We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Ivana and Vojin Basicevic; without their cooperation, graciousness and hospitality, this exhibition would not have been possible. Vojin Basicevic, in particular, has been a cherished resource, whose memories and astute understanding of his father’s life and work form the basis of the foregoing essay. Copies of Dimitrije Basicevic Mangelos’s book, My Father Ilija, may be purchased for $50.00, plus $15.00 for shipping and handling. New York residents, please add sales tax. , Where applicable, checklist entries include inventory numbers and references to the Mangelos book.