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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


LEONARD BASKIN

Proofs and Process

October 9, 2007 - January 5, 2008

ARTISTS

Baskin, Leonard

ESSAY

Toward the end of his lengthy career, Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) often encountered people who were surprised to learn that he was still alive. Perhaps these people associated him with the 1950s and '60s, the period when Baskin first achieved acclaim for monumental woodcuts that gave graphic voice to Cold-War-era anxieties. Some people may have been familiar with Baskin's portraits of Native Americans, which in the 1970s triggered a boom in Southwestern art. Bibliophiles would have known Baskin for his work with the Gehenna Press, which between 1942 and 2000 issued over 100 deluxe limited-edition books, combining original graphics (usually by Baskin) with elegant typography. Many probably thought of Baskin primarily in connection with his close friend and sometime collaborator, the British poet Ted Hughes, or more generally, as an illustrator of texts by such classical authors as Dante and Homer. And there were those who saw Baskin chiefly as a Jewish artist, a rabbi's son who regularly used the Old Testament as a moral touchstone. Last and far from least, Baskin had a huge following as a sculptor, with patrons ranging from the Vatican to the U.S. government.

 

Leonard Baskin's many faces have made it difficult for the public to get a cohesive sense of his artistic achievement. Baskin himself encouraged this situation, not only by pursuing a multiplicity of different art forms with equal dedication and vigor, but by creating discrete cycles and series that tended to be exhibited or published as self-contained units. Yet there was remarkable continuity over his sixty-year career. Baskin's themes are for the most part interrelated, one to the other and across the various mediums that he employed to address them. Our fragmented view of his achievement is not really intrinsic to the work itself, but rather to the way in which it has been presented and received over the decades. Each of the mediums that Baskin chose--printmaking, book making, book illustration and sculpture--allowed the artist to recruit and engage his public directly. Baskin presented his work piecemeal, cultivating a slightly different audience for each component part, because he felt shut out of the mainstream art world. At a time when abstract formalism reigned supreme, he remained firmly committed to figurative humanism. It is perhaps only today, in an art world open to a wealth of traditions from all ages and all parts of the globe, that we can begin to see Baskin's accomplishments whole.

 

Baskin's sense of himself as an outcast and rebel dated to his youth. His education at a rigorous Brooklyn yeshiva instilled in him a lifelong passion for intellectual inquiry, but the teachers' cruelty also taught him early on to question authority. Although his rabbi father was extremely learned, he had absolutely no awareness of art, and Leonard's older brother and younger sister poked fun at the middle sibling's unusual enthusiasms. Leonard's artistic epiphany came at the age of fourteen, when he saw a sculpture demonstration at Macy's. The boy brought home five pounds of plasticene clay, and his career as a sculptor was, so to speak, inaugurated. After finishing his yeshiva classes at 7 PM, Leonard would rush into Manhattan to take art courses at the Educational Alliance. When he was sixteen, his father allowed him to transfer from the yeshiva to a public high school, but Leonard seldom bothered to attend. His education from here on was willfully self-directed, cobbled together largely from long hours in libraries and museums. In later years, he would advise aspiring artists to apprentice themselves to an older colleague, and he himself found such a mentor in the sculptor Maurice Glickman, whom he met at the Educational Alliance. Baskin chafed at any more structured environment. He was nearly expelled from Yale, suffered disciplinary problems while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and walked out of Osip Zadkine's studio in Paris, where he had gone to study on the G.I. Bill. Burning with talent and ideas, however ill-formed, Baskin resented being dictated to by elders less wise.

 

Baskin's commitment to social justice and his ancillary faith in the redemptive power of art also date to his youth. Having come of age during the Great Depression, he was acutely aware of the ubiquity of human suffering and the inequities produced by industrial capitalism. The Marxist politics and social realism then common in urban artistic circles melded with Baskin's grounding in Jewish thought to form the basis of a lifelong philosophy. "I burned with youth's ardency to create a better, a more equitable, a fairer world," he recalled, "and I used my art to express and to communicate that zeal." Then, as later, the human figure seemed the ideal vehicle for capturing what Baskin wished to express. Although he had a fling with Synthetic Cubism while enrolled in a WPA class during the 1930s, he never was seriously attracted to modernism's more abstract tendencies, and this aversion in Baskin became more pronounced as those tendencies became more rigidly enshrined in the years following World War II.

 

In the 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was the dominant American style--championed by an art-world elite looking to best European modernists at what had until then been their game, and by the U.S. government seeking to win hearts and minds in its struggle against international Communism. Unlike realism, which was tainted by its association with the leftwing politics of the 1930s, abstraction was ideologically neutral and therefore could be used by the government to promote democratic freedom. One of the principal architects of the theory that helped achieve the so-called triumph of American painting was the critic Clement Greenberg, who wrote for the CIA-supported Partisan Review. "Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself," Greenberg decreed in his seminal essay "Avant Garde and Kitsch." "Avant-garde culture is the imitation of imitating." Anything else--anything with recognizable content--was kitsch. To which Baskin replied: "Cant is what we must excise, not content." When Baskin declared, quoting the type designer Eric Gill, that "all art is propaganda," he had no idea how right he was. Few people realized that ostensibly content-free, abstract art was being used to fight the Cold War.

 

And so, Baskin's status as an outcast was confirmed, at least in his own mind. "I see myself very much embattled," he said, "very much isolated." Occasionally, he would meet a comrade-in-arms. The artist Rico Lebrun was one such, but he died prematurely, in 1964. Ben Shahn was another, though they eventually parted ways. By and large, however, Baskin found company in the community of ideas housed in his ever-expanding library. His closest colleagues were artists of the past, whom he revered and frequently memorialized in his art: Thomas Eakins, a similarly embattled realist; William Blake, because of his radical politics, his interest in book making and his facility for combining art with poetry; Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach, for their shared appreciation of the tactile affinities between sculpting and printmaking; the German and Austrian Expressionists in general, for their humanistic values. Leonard Baskin picked his way through the paths blazed by these and other artists, gradually accumulating the creative wherewithal to give voice to his own unique vision.

 

By Baskin's own account, he first found his creative voice when he was in his thirties. Prior to that time, as he explained, "My interest was so profoundly engaged by the social weal that I was insensitive to the modalities of form and those formal attributes of monumentality that are the cardinal entities in the broadest definition of sculpture." Like the German artist Max Klinger (whose essay "Painting and Drawing" influenced numerous graphic artists, including Kollwitz), Baskin gradually discovered that printmaking was better suited than sculpture to the communication of social and political ideas. Not only did this free his sculptures from the cumbersome ideological burden they had been carrying, but it launched Baskin on a career as one of the most innovative and versatile printmakers of the twentieth century.

 

In 1952, Baskin began a series of monumental woodcuts, crudely piecing together boards of various sizes to get sheets as tall as 82 inches. He was the first artist outside the realm of commercial lithography to create such large prints in the modern era--starting a trend that found many followers in the 1960s and thereafter. Carved with the same verve as Baskin's sculptures, the monumental woodcuts were powerful commentaries on the state of humankind. The two best-known images in the series, Man of Peace and Hanged Man, trenchantly encapsulate the artist's ambivalent stance: the one an offering of hope tinged with hopelessness, the other a memorial to an anonymous figure who might be either a victim or a criminal.

 

During the 1950s, Baskin, who had been studying and traveling since he got out of the navy, settled in Massachusetts, where he found jobs teaching art, first in Worcester and then at Smith College in Northampton. In 1951, he revived the Gehenna press, which he had started as a student at Yale in 1942. "Gehenna" was a punning reference to Milton's Paradise Lost, wherein Gehenna is characterized as "the type of hell." Baskin loved books, which he passionately collected, not just for their contents, but for their visceral physical qualities. He appreciated beautiful fonts, elegantly composed pages, generous margins, sumptuous handmade paper and printerly craftsmanship as much as the original artwork that went into his Gehenna publications. Contained within a custom-made box or a luxurious but restrained binding, each publication was a perfect little universe unto itself.

 

In many respects, Baskin continued the tradition of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), which had been central to advanced artistic thought in early twentieth-century Austria and Germany. The idea of uniting disparate aesthetic components in a single coordinated expression was key to the Gehenna enterprise. Whether the task entailed mating images with text, or music to a libretto, the Austrian and German avant garde believed that neither element should be subordinate to the other, but rather that both should independently pursue the same goal. And this is how Baskin worked with his closest literary collaborator, Ted Hughes.

 

Like the founders of the Wiener Werkstätte design collective, who thought that if one were truly an artist one should excel in every craft, Baskin believed in being a "Jack of all trades and a master of all." This belief not only allowed him to oversee every aspect of the Gehenna productions, but to develop his creative ideas in disparate mediums.

 

Each medium brought its own specific characteristics to Baskin's subjects. Carving, modeling and drawing were the artist's favorite techniques, but he had a particular feeling for the indirect processes whereby a singular image is turned into a multiple. He was as comfortable with a burin or an etching needle as with a pen. Baskin pulled countless proofs of his prints, painting or penciling in corrections and adjusting the image, the inking, the color until they were exactly right. When, in 1980, he began making monotypes (more or less unique impressions pulled from painted plates), the resulting prints had a vibrancy and spontaneity far greater than that of many watercolors. Baskin rarely made preparatory studies; he preferred to work out his ideas by jumping from one medium to another. "I try to penetrate the hot essence of a theme by doing a series of drawings of it, or numbers of prints," he explained, "elaborating and finding nuances and discovering diversions and variations. . . . As the idea seems to be exhausted, I conceive of the theme anew, as a low bronze relief or as a large wood carving. The subject can thus be reinvigorated and reinvested with a set of new meanings."

 

Early on, Baskin's political ideas had been expelled from his sculpture into his prints, but the woodcuts gave these thoughts a graphic monumentality that was then reintroduced to the sculpture. So, for example, the "hanged man" became a leitmotif for the artist, reappearing across the span of his career not just in prints, but in watercolors, drawings and bronzes, large and small. Another recurrent motif was the raptor--the bird of prey--which for Baskin represented man's inherent predaciousness. It is clear from the penises on some of the birds that Baskin considered aggression a male attribute, just as his mourning mothers (much in the tradition of Kollwitz) reflect the reality that women are the most common victims of violence. Yet Baskin's views were hardly monolithic or unnuanced. One of his favorite mythological characters was Medea, the sorcerer who punished her unfaithful husband, Jason, by murdering their children. And the owl is not just a raptor, but the sibyl's familiar and an emblem of wisdom. Thus Baskin intertwined his own symbolic iconography with figures from literature, mythology and the Bible to explore humankind's existential predicament. Ambiguity was his forte, reflecting his conviction that we are all equally culpable for man's inhumanity to man, and likewise all its victims. Baskin believed in the possibility of redemption, and his art was at once a benediction and an act of atonement. "However debased, man . . . is marvelous," he wrote. "Freed from the gestures and manner of his destructive and coercive society, man is glorious."

 

Despite its sometimes grim subject matter, Baskin's art was essentially optimistic. He felt that the only way to triumph over the horrors of modern life was to address them directly. It was the denial of these realities in contemporary trends like abstraction and Pop Art that he found truly nihilistic. Although Baskin consciously bucked these trends, he experienced a considerable degree of professional success. Formalism did not conquer the art world overnight or completely, and for a time in the 1950s and early '60s, Baskin was broadly embraced. William Lieberman, then Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art and later head of the Department of Twentieth-Century Art at the Metropolitan Museum, was an early supporter. In 1959, MoMA included Baskin in its "New Images of Man" exhibition, and two years later, the museum's International Council sent a one-man show of his work abroad. The New York Times called Baskin "one of the best artists of his generation," and in 1964 he was the subject of a feature article in Life Magazine. Even as attitudes hardened against humanistic realism in the later '60s, Baskin was able to slip under the radar. This was partly due to his penchant for producing multiples, which could be marketed directly to the public with minimal art-world mediation, and partly because the mediums that interested him were considered relatively unimportant. The art-world's aesthetic battles were being waged chiefly in the realm of painting.

 

As Baskin approached the middle of his professional life in the early 1970s, he found himself in a strange predicament. On the one hand, he was increasingly embittered by the art-world's formalist preoccupations, which he saw as an abdication of moral responsibility. On the other hand, he was equally bothered by his own success, fearful of losing his youthful integrity of vision. In 1974, he gave up his teaching post at Smith and moved with his second wife, Lisa Unger, to England, purchasing a house in Devon near that of his friend Ted Hughes. Not only was Baskin thereby effectively insulated from the American art scene, but his work was warmly received in England, home to such artists as Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. In this congenial atmosphere, Baskin's creativity blossomed: he began to explore color in greater depth, and to broaden his explorations of the female persona, a subject that had not appeared in his work before he met Unger. A momentary dip in energy, documented in a haunting series of self-portraits, plagued the artist in the late 1970s, when he was suffering from an undiagnosed pituitary tumor. Neurosurgery in 1979 literally gave Baskin a new lease on life, and his productivity soared thereafter. In 1983, the Baskins returned to the United States, where the artist, now something of an elder statesmen, was feted with awards and exhibitions. Ironically, the U.S. government, which had once spurned his brand of social realism, became a major patron, commissioning a contribution to the Franklin Roosevelt memorial in Washington, D.C., and installing Baskin's Woodrow Wilson memorial in the Federal Triangle Building. Baskin died in Northampton, Massachusetts, in June 2000.

 

Leonard Baskin's career spanned most of the twentieth century, from the Depression through World War II to Vietnam and the first Iraq war. Baskin believed that it was his duty, as an artist, to reflect upon these dire events and the circumstances that had allowed them to occur. He believed that "the human figure is the image of all of us. It contains all and can express all." And he believed that a work of art must be both original and tied to tradition. Excluded from the dominant artistic trends of postwar America, Baskin sought his inspiration in the art of other times and places, and he honed his own vision. As we now know, the postwar attempt to define modernism exclusively in terms of rote formalism was simplistic and misguided, for the prewar Europeans did not wish to expunge art of all humanistic content, but rather to invent a new visual language suited to the realities of contemporary life. Just as art historians have recently been excavating modernism to its fullest depths, young artists today are interested in exploring all the many facets of art-historical tradition, including its once despised realist elements. In this, Leonard Baskin, out of sync with his times, is a role model for our own.

 

We would like to thank Lisa Unger Baskin for her generous help in organizing this exhibition: for her hospitality, her advice and for the many tireless hours spent reviewing and discussing her late husband's work. Where applicable, checklist entries are accompanied by references to the catalogue raisonnés, The Sculpture of Leonard Baskin by Irma B. Jaffe; The Complete Prints of Leonard Baskin by Alan Fern and Judith O'Sullivan; and The Gehenna Press: The Work of Fifty Years, 1942-1992 by Lisa, Hosea and Leonard Baskin. Image dimensions are given for the prints, full dimensions for the watercolors, drawings and monotypes.