gse_menu_A1

Past Exhibitions

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


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


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


Drawn to Text: Comix Artists as Book Illustrators

May 15, 1994 - January 7, 1995


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


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


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


MODERN FURIES

The Lessons and Legacy of World War I

January 21, 2014 - April 12, 2014

ARTISTS

Baldessari, R.M.

Beckmann, Max

Dix, Otto

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Kollwitz, Käthe

Laske, Oskar

Printed Ephemera

Schiele, Egon

ESSAY

Nearly one hundred years ago, on June 28, 1914, a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary, encouraged by Germany, declared war on Serbia, which was backed by Russia. Germany, assuming that Russia's ally France would enter the conflict, launched a preemptive attack by marching through neutral Belgium. This prompted England to declare war on August 4. Linked by their preexisting alliances, the Allied Powers (the British Empire, France, Russia and Italy) formed a block against the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire). What came to be known as the Great War, and later the First World War, eventually ensnared not only the European continent, but Japan, China, the United States and parts of Latin America.

 

In popular memory, the summer of 1914--like the day, some twenty-five years later, when Hitler invaded Poland, or September 11, 2001--was indescribably beautiful. Amalgams of fact, nostalgia and metaphor, such memories demarcate a perceived loss of innocence, drawing a line between a supposedly halcyon past and a more somber present. In 1914, Britain had not known war (aside from some conveniently distant colonial scuffles) in a century, and most of continental Europe had been at peace since the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Industrialization had spawned an apparently stable middle-class society and a network of international economic ties that seemed to guarantee perpetual harmony.

 

Nevertheless, opposition to the new social order was widespread among the underclass, which felt exploited, as well as the avant garde, which felt stifled by the bourgeoisie. Many German intellectuals believed that modern civilization and art were irreconcilable. "The mind," wrote Thomas Mann, "is civil, borgeois; it is the sworn enemy of the instincts, the passions... it is, moreover, anti-genius." Industrial mechanization, seen as inseparable from the borgeois ascendancy, was likewise considered an enemy by artists like Max Beckmann and Franz Marc. Marc hoped the Great War would expose the inutility of advanced technology and thereby prove a decisive turning point in Europe's "spiritual transformation." The Italian Futurists, on the other hand, idealized the redemptive potential of technology and viewed the military machine as a means of annihilating the established order. In either case, across Europe, the intelligentsia initially embraced the war as a necessary cleansing purgative.

 

No one, of course, thought the war would last very long; a few weeks or months at most. Beckmann, Marc, Otto Dix and George Grosz were among the many young men who, caught up in a groundswell of patriotic fervor, volunteered for military duty early on. Oskar Kokoschka went out and bought his own horse and fancy uniform so that he could join an elite cavalry unit. Even Käthe Kollwitz, later a committed pacifist, at first felt compelled to support the war effort. "Occasionally there comes the foolish thought: how can they possibly take part in such madness?" she wrote. "And at once comes the cold shower: they must, must!... Only one state of mind makes it all bearable: to absorb the spirit of sacfrifice into one's resolve."

 

England did not impose a draft until 1916, but in Germany, France and Austria-Hungary military service had been mandatory for young men since at least the late nineteenth century. There were, however, various ways of avoiding conscription, and especially in Austria-Hungary, few actually served prior to the outbreak of the war. Thereafter, the Austro-Hungarian Army provided safe sinecures for well-connected soldiers. Artists and writers attempted to get themselves assigned to the War Press Headquarters, War Archive or Army Museum (where Egon Schiele eventually served). Those who had graduated from Gymnasium or who, like many Austrian and Germany artists, had at least three years of post-secondary schooling qualified as "one-year volunteers," which meant they were fast-tracked for officer training. In the more industrialized parts of Europe, there was an inherent tension between well-educated bourgeois recruits and the established career officers. At the same time, the draft swept up thousands of scarcely literate peasants and workers who, particularly in the fragmented Eastern provinces, had no loyalty to the distant government that controlled their fates. Depending on one's vantage point, universal conscription could be seen as a great democratizing force or as an exacerbation of the conflicts that had contributed to the war in the first place.

 

By late 1914, it was already clear the war would not end quickly, and that it was consuming soldiers at an exorbitant rate. The original forces on both sides had been all but wiped out, and the standards for new recruits and conscripts began a notorious downward spiral. (In Jaroslav Hasek's classic World War I satire, The Good Soldier Schwejk, the eponymous hero shows up for his physical in a wheelchair.) After a few head-to-head engagements, the armies were now ensconced in an elaborate network of trenches that extended some 400 miles from the Belgian coast through France to the Swiss border. And here the troops would remain, more or less, for the next three years, the two sides separated from one another only by barbed wire and a 500- to 1,500-yard "No Man's Land." Conditions were miserable down in the trenches, which were prone to flooding, swarming with rats and lice, and rife with the stench of men living and dying at close quarters. Above ground, all was a wasteland. From strategic lookout points, soldiers lobbed hand grenades across No Man's Land or pelted the other side with machine-gun fire. This was not the first time these weapons had been deployed, but their use, in tandem with other relatively recent inventions like the airplane, the zeppelin, the submarine, long-range missiles, tanks, landmines and poison gas, resulted in mechanized destruction on a previously unimaginable scale. Within the context of such a war, Kokoschka's elegant horse and cavalry paraphernalia seemed like a cruel joke.

 

In all, the Great War left 37.5 million dead, wounded or missing. The war machine's unquenchable appetite for men and materiel, coupled with the disruptions of international trade, placed enormous burdens on the home front. Complex propaganda efforts were therefore needed to ensure the loyalty of a populace forced to endure food shortages, rationing, wage controls and the continual loss of loved ones. From the outset the enemy was demonized, and each side identified the other as the aggressor. Words in the enemy's language were expunged from common use, enemy authors banned. The Austrian writer Karl Kraus referred mockingly to "traitor's noodles" (spaghetti) and (anticipating the American Congress during the second Iraq war) "warmonger fries." The British perfected the art of euphemism: casualties became "wastage"; poison gas was "the accessory." Communications were routinely censored, and news reports were falsified. "All they know is a bunch of crap," says a character in Kraus's World War I play, The Last Days of Mankind, "and if they do know anything, they won't tell the public."

 

The British Prime Minister, Lloyd George, believed that if the public knew the truth about the war, they would rise up to stop it. "The thing is horrible, he said, "and beyond human nature to bear." As maimed and shell-shocked soldiers, returning from the front, began to bear witness to their experiences, a peace movement did in fact emerge. In Germany, the left-wing periodical Die Aktion (one of the few to maintain an antiwar stance from the start) was joined, in 1916, by Der Bildermann, a pacifist broadsheet published by the art dealer Paul Cassirer. Propaganda leaflets dropped by enemy aircraft exacerbated nascent dissent. German soldiers were shown photos of their comrades enjoying abundant meals in English P.O.W. camps; workers were told that they were fighting not for the nation's honor, but for the benefit of greedy millionaires; mothers were urged to save their sons. Deteriorating conditions made it increasingly difficult to maintain order in the factories and the military ranks. Court materials--that is to say, summary executions--occurred regularly in both the Allied and the Central armies. In Russia, the government was too weak to counter the domestic forces of rebellion. After the Tsar was deposed and his family murdered, the soldiers and workers formed Soviets (councils) demanding an immediate socialist redistribution of property. In early 1918, the new Bolshevik government signed a peace treaty with Germany and its allies. In November of the same year, German sailors at the ports of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven mutinied, forcing the Kaiser to abdicate. A general armistice between the warring parties was effected on November 11.

 

The mechanized terror of the World War created an unprecedented impetus, not just to outlaw the most agregious weapons (like poison gas), but to eliminate war altogether. In 1928, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France and eleven other leading nations actually signed a pact renouncing war as an instrument of national policy. Kollwitz, who had lost her son on the Belgian front, led off her polemical War cycle with the woodcut Sacrafice: a scathing denunciation of the patriotic imperative that had seduced the German nation into betraying its children. The belief that maternal instincts could serve as a counter to male belligerence was echoed by Virginia Woolf, who considered war an artifact of the patriarchy. Supporters of the Soviet revolution, on the other hand, saw capitalism as the villain. The only victor in a modern war was the munitions industry, which sold indiscriminately to both sides and profited regardless of the outcome. Wars were fought at the behest of what Grosz mockingly called the "pillars of society" (the clergy, the military and the bourgeoisie), and at the expense of disempowered workers, whose brainwashing prevented them from recognizing their transnational class interests. If the workers of the world truly did unite, some believed, there would be no more wars.

 

During the war, images of the conflict had been as carefully controlled by the authorities as news reports. Both Germany and France banned press photography at the front. It was self-understood that those who, like Oskar Laske, were officially designated "war painters" would create only positive pictures. Schiele, unable to wangle such an assignment, curried favor with his superior officers by sketching their portraits and producing elegant drawings of military facilities. For more artist-soldiers, however, the war was an ordeal that left little time for picture making. August Macke and Marc were among the millions who were killed in action. Kokoschka was seriously wounded twice and finally invalided out of service in 1917. Beckmann, Grosz and E. L. Kirchner all suffered emotional breakdowns. Dix was one of the few major German painters to survive a full four years at the front. Benumbed, saddened or furious, artists lucky enough to return home alive brought memories of the war with them and, in many cases, into their work.

 

The Great War gave new currency to the old maxim, "The first casualty of war is truth." Indeed, the very notion of "the truth," of fixed values, may be considered a casualty of that war. As the literary historian Paul Fussell has noted, irony hereafter became the quintessentual mode of modern discourse. The contrast between the ideals for which the men had ostensibly fought, and the realities they faced on the battlefield could only be addressed obliquely, or in satires like The Good Soldier Schwejk and The Last Days of Mankind. Grosz, who did the set designs for Erwin Piscator's 1928 stage production of Schwejk, used charicature, the visual equivalent of satire. His illustration of the German slogan "Heart and Hand for the Fatherland" depicts a soldier enthusiastically beyonetting his adversary, while the artist's portratals of officers are classic distillations of smug self-righteousness.

 

It was not just that the public knew it had been deceived; people no longer trusted words or pictures. Artistry as such seemed suspect, amateur efforts more authentic. While Dix's War cycle is a technical tour-de-force, it derives its power from a deliberate lack of anatomical inaccuracies and intentionally crude drawing. Beckmann, too, abandoned conventional realism in favor of a visceral expressive vocabulary that relied on fragmented lines and compositional disjunction. Audiences were now prepared to recognize such distortions as the visual language of their time.

 

The triumph of the avant garde over prewar bourgeois pictorial conventions led to a wider acceptance of formerly controversial styles like Expressionism and Cubism. The younger generation of artists, however, wanted to move on. Some found solace in a soothing neoclassicism, or in the pseudo-objective naturalism of the Neue Sachlichkeit. Many German artists, especially those with socialist leanings, disdained the Expressionists' individualistic self-absorption and the bourgeois preciousness of painting. Instead they favored art forms, like photo-montage, that minimized the evidence of the artist's hand. Inexpensive multiples--such as prints, photographs and photomechanical reproductions--reached out to a large and ostensibly proletarian public. The emphasis on the hand-hewn and raw seen in the work of Dix, Beckmann and others was thus balanced by a de facto recognition that the machine was an integral part of contemporary life. The Constructivists embraced mechanization as a liberating force. "Technology knows no tradition and no class consciousness," declared Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. "This is our century: technology, machinery, socialism."

 

If the World War had been a metaphorical showdown between nature and the machine, it was clear the machine had won. The torpedoing of the British passenger liner Lusitania in 1915 offered a chilling coda to the sinking of the Titanic three years earlier. In the first incident, Kraus noted, "It was the wrath of God about the arrogance of this technical age that tried to teach man through horror what he wouldn't learn through reverence. But now the God of technology does the teaching--that's progress." In truth, the war made a mockery of human progress. Far from inaugurating the "spiritual transformation" of Europe, the conflict demonstrated that "natural man," reduced to his primitive essentials, was no better than a beast. Traditional heroic virtues, like valor, discipline and noble sacrifice, were meaningless in the trenches.

 

In Greek mythology, the Furies were the goddesses of revenge--ferocious, but just. In modern times, however, warfare has grown so brutal that many wonder whether it can ever be justified. Our nation has been at war in one form or another for much of the past century, but maintaining popular support for these conflicts has often proved difficult. The resultant propaganda apparatus has come to resemble George Orwell's 1984, with its bogus "Newspeak," mendacious "Ministry of Truth," and "Big Brother" spying on everyone. While on the one hand it can unite a country with a sense of shared mission (as was the case in World War II), the draft can also lead citizens to rebel (as happened during the Vietnam era). A volunteer army, such as we have today, solved this problem by offering the underclass an otherwise scarce chance at employment, while simultaneously keeping their deaths far from general awareness. Technology, too, makes killing appear remote, and as bloodless as a video game. The intertwined interests of industry and the military, recalling Grosz's caricatures, are now a mainstay of our economy. We live in the world foreshadowed and in part created by the Great War.

 

We would like to express our warmest thanks to the lenders who made this exhibition possible, including the Archive of Modern Conflict in London, Merrill C. Berman and Gary Neil Miller. Checklist entries are accompanied by their catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Image dimensions are given for the prints, full dimensions for all other works, including the posters and printed ephemera.