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Past Exhibitions

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


Recent Acquisitions

And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market

July 9, 2013 - September 27, 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


PARALLEL VISIONS II

"Outsider" and "Insider" Art Today

April 5, 2006 - May 26, 2006

ARTISTS

Amezcua, Chelo

Blagdon, Emery

Coe, Sue

Consalvos, Felipe Jesus

Crepin, Joseph

Darger, Henry

DeBellevue, Lucky

DiBenedetto, Steve

Doi, Hiroyuki

Dzama, Marcel

Fahlstrom, Oyvind

Gordon, Sam

Hipkiss, Chris

Johnson, Howard

Johnson, Ray

Jones, Frank

Lesage, Augustin

Murry, J.B.

Nedjar, Michel

Pettibon, Raymond

Sheehy, Sandra

Siena, James

Temple, Mary

Thompson, Martin

Wölfli, Adolf

Zemankova, Anna

Zharkikh, Rosa

Zinelli, Carlo

ESSAY

In 1992, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented a groundbreaking exhibition titled “Parallel Visions,” which traced the connections between modern artists and their self-taught colleagues. This exhibition played a major role in establishing the field of “outsider” art as it exists today. However, just as our view of modernism has changed in the intervening years, the boundaries between “outsider” and “insider” art have gradually begun to blur. Many elements that once seemed exclusive to “outsider” art—obsessive repetition of form, a pop-culture frame of reference, the conjuring of fantastic alternative realities, crudeness of execution and the use of debased, non-art materials—have infiltrated the mainstream art world. Of course, the appropriation of “low” art attributes by practitioners of “high” art is nothing new and was in fact the subject of the original “Parallel Visions” show. It is thus worth asking, what, if anything, has really changed?

 

 

The title “Parallel Visions” itself implied a certain bias on the part of the exhibition’s organizers: the fields of “insider” and “outsider” art were separate but not quite equal. This last point was brought home by the subtitle, “Modern Artists and Outsider Art” [italics added]. It was the mainstream artists who were in control, who chose which aspects of “outsider” art to accept and which to reject or, more often, simply to ignore. In this sense, "Parallel Visions" was in the tradition of its two predecessors at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, “High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture” (1990) and “Primitivism and 20th Century Art” (1984), both of which were widely criticized for enforcing an imperialistic, Eurocentric reading of cultural exploitation. However, while all three exhibitions dealt with the relationship between mainstream modernism and its various unorthodox tributaries, “Parallel Visions” was more progressive in questioning modernism’s own internal orthodoxies. LACMA’s curators, Maurice Tuchman and Carol Eliel, saw their presentation as a sequel to the museum’s 1986 exhibition “The Spiritual in Art,” which posited a mystically oriented alternative to the formalist paradigm that had previously dominated analyses of abstraction. By viewing the modernists’ fascination with the “other” in terms of content as well as form, Tuchman and EIiel in fact broke with accepted art-historical practice and anticipated the more expansive approach to influence that has come to characterize postmodernist critical discourse.

 

The obsession with “otherness” that is so intrinsic to modernism originated around the turn of the last century. Although a broad array of non-academic art—folk craft, amateur painting and art by the mentally ill—existed in earlier eras, the arbiters of high culture paid such lowly creations no mind. The “noble savage” existed as a concept in philosophy but not in art, which was the unchallenged purview of the hereditary aristocracy and, in democratic America, of the educated moneyed classes. During the nineteenth century, however, the readjustment of class boundaries occasioned by industrialization and the mingling of disparate populations through migration and imperialism sparked heretofore unknown confrontations between dominant and subservient peoples. The simultaneous need and inability to deal with the “other” became a leitmotif of twentieth-century history, contributing to its many genocides. The crumbling of once stable aristocratic empires touched off World War I, which in turn triggered Hitler’s retaliatory quest for European domination and World War II. And for each world war, there was a concomitant surge of interest in self-taught art, the art of the “other,” on the part of the cultural elite.

 

The waves of interest in self-taught art that recurred throughout the twentieth century tended to emphasize differing aspects of the “other.” The first “outsider” to be brought “inside” was the famous painting toll collector Henri Rousseau. Embraced by Picasso in France and Kandinsky in Germany, Rousseau was the original “naïf,” a paragon of childlike innocence. It was Kandinsky, a prolific theorist, who promulgated the notion that artists without formal training are better able to capture the “inner resonance” of their subjects than those whose spontaneity has been dulled by rote schooling. After World War I, this ideal of artistic purity would find broader commercial acceptance through the intervention of the art historian and dealer Wilhelm Uhde, who cobbled together a whole group of untrained “Painters of the Sacred Heart.” However, in the 1920s another, darker view of the “outsider” also emerged, courtesy of the psychiatrists Hans Prinzhorn and Walter Morgenthaler. Working, respectively, with mental patients at the Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic and with the brilliant Swiss psychotic Adolf Wölfli, these two doctors sought access to the elemental depths of the creative spirit. The harnessing of unconscious impulses became a primary goal of the Surrealists, many of whom were familiar with Prinzhorn’s and Morgenthaler’s work.

 

Surrealism spawned the preeminent post-World War-II champion of “outsiders,” the artist Jean Dubuffet. Art Brut (raw art), the term he coined to describe art untainted by received culture, was a direct response to the insanity of global war. Despairing of civilization, Dubuffet looked to its margins for hope and inspiration, which he found in the work of mental patients, spiritual mediums and extreme outcasts. In effect, Dubuffet melded the two pre-war conceptions of self-taught art, ascribing primordial innocence and purity to the work of social deviants. Art Brut in turn spawned “outsider” art, but something was literally lost in translation and in the transplantation of the genre from Europe to the United States.

 

Mainstream recognition of self-taught art, like modernism itself, was a European import that was welcomed to the U.S. rather belatedly and, in the process, given a uniquely American interpretation. As in Europe, America’s early modernists used self-taught art to ratify their own unorthodox formal experiments. But in the depths of the Depression, when America’s first homegrown self-taught painters were “discovered,” the genre quickly became a repository for all sorts of notions about national identity. Like the contemporary Regionalists, self-taught artists of the 1930s represented the strength of the heartland as against the corrupt big city. They represented native ingenuity, freedom and individualism. In America, where class divisions are more commonly denied than is the case in Europe, self-taught artists bolstered the myth of egalitarianism. Thus the art-world elite lauded working-class artists during the Depression. More recently, in the face of entrenched racism, that same elite has promoted African-American creators. Whereas in Europe, a sharp rift developed between proponents of “naïve” art and avatars of Art Brut, Americans were far less inclined to engage in such theoretical hair-splitting. To them, folk art, “naïve” art, self-taught art and “outsider” art were all different expressions of pretty much the same thing.

 

Despite the divergent aspects of the “other” highlighted in the first and second halves of the twentieth century, in Europe and in America, all approaches to self-taught art suffered from similar inherent contradictions. For one thing, the ascription of intrinsic purity to self-taught artists was neither objectively verifiable nor true. It is, after all, no more possible to determine whether an artist has a “sacred heart” than it is to X-ray his or her soul. And the paradigm of purity clashed head-on with the fact of external influence. As it turns out, many self-taught artists teach themselves in exactly the same way that trained artists do: they look at things and then poach from an array of preexisting sources. Only for self-taught artists, those sources are ad hoc, rather than selected by the art-world’s educational superstructure. There was also something insidious about the mainstream’s idealization of the self-taught artist’s ostensible purity. A self-taught artist could be disqualified, driven from the temple of Art Brut and back into the no-man’s land of inept anonymity, for being too knowing or too ambitious. The whole point was that self-taught artists were accidental modernists, creating works that looked like sophisticated art without deliberately intending to. By denying the self-taught artist’s intentionality, the art-world mainstream denied these artists the right to be taken seriously. Insofar as the discipline of art history has traditionally treated art works as texts, the purpose of which is to communicate an artist’s conscious or unconscious intent, the doctrine of “purity” made it impossible to properly study self-taught artists and therefore impossible to admit them to the canon. The “other” was acknowledged, even petted and pampered, but at the same time safely ensconced in a position subordinate to that of the mainstream elite.

 

Most of the attributes—purity, innocence, iconoclasm, individualism—ascribed to “outsiders” had less to do with them than with the projected needs of the mainstream. In practice, the mainstream’s relationship to self-taught artists was largely formal, as though by claiming a similar pictorial language, trained artists could appropriate those self-same projected values. This formal relationship was double-edged: the mainstream singled out self-taught artists who unwittingly confirmed its own preexisting aesthetic proclivities, and trained artists also borrowed specific stylistic tropes from their uneducated colleagues. Formalism became the primary way in which modernism was explained and sold to the broader public, especially in the U.S. In the years immediately after World War II, the histories of diverse modernist movements in places like Russia, Italy, Germany and Austria were pruned in order to present a clean, linear developmental trajectory from prewar Paris to postwar New York. The whole idea of a single international art “center” presupposed a high degree of coordination and unity of intent. Modernism’s subsidiary “isms” were seen to comprise cohesive teams of artists engaged in a joint mission to advance the global cause of art. Tastemakers such as MoMA’s founding director Alfred Barr and the art critic Clement Greenberg wielded immense influence through their ability to channel the messy products of artistic enterprise into neat formalist schemes.

 

Today, the formalist linearity once ascribed to modernist development has been generally discredited, both as art history and as a prescriptive mandate for aspiring artists. Artists are encouraged to take their inspiration from anything and everything that moves them, reaching back in time through all of art history, and absorbing more recent visual phenomena like cartoons, comics and film as well. Artists such as Öyvind Fahlstrom and Ray Johnson, who were considered peripheral to the Pop Art movement because of their unwillingness to subordinate pop imagery to a high-art schema, are now admired for their unmediated heterogeneity. Artists like Fahlstrom, Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon give all cultural sources equal weight, drawing no distinction between the “high” and the “low.” There are no rules or restrictions regarding the use of materials, either. “New media” such as video and computers are welcomed in the high-art arena once dominated by painting and sculpture, as are formerly “inferior” modes of expression like photography and the pottery of Grayson Perry. This diversity has created a confusing welter of objects and styles. There are no longer any gatekeepers comparable to Barr or Greenberg controlling access to the citadel of high art. For the most part, curators and critics now follow paths blazed in an increasingly freewheeling and decentralized marketplace. Globalization has for the first time created a true “art world,” assimilating collectors and artists from all over. Although many dealers are still based in New York, the art scene has become a moveable feast, decamping regularly to Basel, Miami, London or wherever in accordance with art-fair schedules. Globalization has forced a new confrontation with the “other,” both in terms of individual players and in terms of diverse traditions.

 

The current approach to self-taught art is in many respects an extension of the heterogeneity born of globalization, and as such differs decisively from the earlier, modernist approach to the genre. The pairing of Henry Darger with the Chapman Brothers and Grayson Perry in recent exhibitions was predicated not on formal similarities, but on a kinship of content. Perry has cited Darger as a key influence in helping him come to terms artistically with his own legacy of childhood abuse as well as in dealing with the larger subjects of war, violence and the exploitation of the weak by the strong. Darger’s use of children’s-book iconography to explore adult issues of sexual aggression finds further echoes in Dzama’s watercolors. Conquering evil by confronting and taming it may well be one of the primordial functions of art. Thus Frank Jones drew nests of colored-pencil cells to imprison the devils he called “haints.” Steve DiBenedetto explores childhood fears by crafting tortured mindscapes that combine organic and mechanical forms. The idea of mapping the unconscious—either through semi-abstract images like DiBenedetto’s or though literal maps like those of Darger, Perry and Pettibon—are recurrent themes these days.

 

Closely related to the impetus to conquer evil is a belief that art has redemptive potential. Many artists have seen art-making as a devotional act. Chelo Amezcua commemorated the completion of each of her meticulously wrought, filigreed drawings with a period of prayer and meditation. Hiroyuki Doi began drawing after the death of his brother, depicting amalgams of tiny, bubble-like cells that represent the transmigration of the soul and link the artist’s earthly being to the cosmos. Emery Blagdon constructed “healing machines,” composed of chemicals, scrap metal and found objects, that emitted a mild, ostensibly curative electrical charge. Roger Ackling harnesses the energy of the sun to scarify bits of found wood with fine parallel lines. The painstaking process of directing the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass is akin to meditating, and the resulting object becomes an affirmation of the world’s wonders, a combined product of earth and sky. For Ackling, as for Michel Nedjar, the found object itself carries a certain spiritual potency. Nedjar, many of whose family perished in the Holocaust, considers it important to salvage materials that would otherwise be lost or destroyed.

 

Ritual, the repetition of a seemingly meaningless act or form, can be viewed as delusional, obsessive, profound or sacred, depending on one’s frame of reference. Counting, for example, informs both the art of Joseph Crépin (who was told in a vision that if he painted a certain number of pictures, he could ensure peace on earth) and Mary Temple, who is trying to concretize the enormity of our modern world by drawing a million brightly colored ellipses. Martin Thompson creates brilliant geometric patterns on graph paper according to precise mathematical formulae, and then repeats the same pattern in reverse on a matching sheet. James Siena is similarly interested in the mathematical roots of abstraction, and his tightly nested skeins of lines and forms conform to predetermined algorithms. By revealing the patterns underlying the visible world, many of these works suggest a connection with the divine.

 

Often these days one has the sneaking suspicion that the only difference between “insider” and “outsider” artists is the way they are labeled and marketed. Chris Hipkiss, whose meticulous graphite fantasies reference such sources as Bosch, Breughel and Hogarth, chanced upon John Maizels and Monika Kinley (both important supporters of “outsider” art in Britain) early in his career, and he has been typecast accordingly ever since. Sue Coe, who shares many of Hipkiss's specific influences as well as his concern with animal rights and environmental apocalypse, likewise entered the art world through the backdoor (in her case, commercial illustration), but she has never been considered an “outsider” artist. The need to vet “outsiders” by fixating on their biographies is beginning to seem increasingly shallow and pointless. The minor detail of having gone, or not gone, to art school seems similarly irrelevant when all the world’s a school. To the extent that they exist outside the nine-to-five job grind that preoccupies most people, all artists are economic “outsiders.” And all artists, if they are any good, are passionate and driven. As the boundaries between “outsiders” and “insiders” disintegrate, so too do the boundaries between us and the “other.” At a time when we are hyper-aware of globalization’s negative effects, from economic exploitation and environmental degradation to terrorism, it is encouraging to think that at least on some level, the divisions between disparate peoples are diminishing in the face of our common humanity.

 

The present exhibition, covering such a vast variety of art and artists, would not have been possible without the help and input of a great many people. First and foremost, we must express our gratitude to our co-curator Don Hanson, who has long served as our tireless guide to the mysteries of the contemporary art world, and to Elizabeth Marcus, who also advised on the selection of artists. Warmest thanks go as well to our many lenders, including Martina Batan, Shari Cavin and Randall Morris, Feature, Inc., Richard Feigen and Frances F. L. Beatty, Harlan and Weaver, Phyllis Kind, Mixed Greens, John Ollman, Selig D. Sacks, the Von Lintel Gallery and David Zwirner. Unless otherwise indicated, checklist entries cite image dimensions for the prints and full dimensions for all other works.