gse_menu_A1

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


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


THE LADY AND THE TRAMP

Images of Women in Austrian and German Art

October 11, 2011 - December 30, 2011

ARTISTS

Beckmann, Max

Corinth, Lovis

Dix, Otto

Grosz, George

Grundig, Lea

Heckel, Erich

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Klimt, Gustav

Klinger, Max

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Kubin, Alfred

Modersohn-Becker, Paula

Motesiczky, Marie-Louise

Mueller, Otto

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Schiele, Egon

ESSAY

In the early years of the twentieth century, artists, writers, scientists and philosophers in Central Europe were preoccupied with what was commonly referred to as the "Woman Question." The changing roles of men and women in industrial society had spawned both the women’s emancipation movement and a plethora of studies on gender difference, many of which purported to offer “objective” proof of female inferiority. Riffing on the latest scientific discoveries, men opined that evolution had hard-wired women to be physically weaker, stupider and more submissive. Many of these misogynistic theories were united in Otto Weininger’s hugely popular 1903 tract Sex and Character. “In…the absolute female,” Weininger wrote, “there are no logical and ethical phenomena, and therefore the ground for the assumption of a soul is absent.”

 

Of particular concern to fin-de-siècle men was female sexuality. “The woman is devoted totally to sexual matters,” Weininger explained, “that is to say, to the spheres of begetting and reproduction.” She was, essentially, all vagina and no brain. However other theorists, including Sigmund Freud, held that libido was an inherently masculine trait, and that sexual desire in a woman was abnormal. “Healthy” women successfully sublimated their erotic instincts in the service of bearing and raising children. This line of thought affirmed the age-old Christian paradigms of the “Madonna” and the “whore,” as exemplified by the Virgin Mary and Eve, the first sinner. Women were either asexual maternal types, or evil nymphomaniacs.

 

The Madonna/whore dichotomy forms a recurrent leitmotif in the work of Gustav Klimt. His famous portraits of Viennese society ladies look like Byzantine or Russian religious icons. Small faces peek out from vast expanses of ornamentation, which not only conceal the women’s bodies but render them flat and virtually sexless. The subjects’ erotic power is subsumed within a sensuous decorative surround. In Klimt’s allegorical paintings and many of his studio drawings, on the other hand, sexuality is addressed in an extremely forthright manner. Often the women appear lost in an erotic trance, seemingly oblivious to their charms, yet nonetheless ruled by them. Writing enthusiastically about Klimt’s nudes, the Viennese critic Hermann Bahr echoed Weininger: “Everything about the woman belongs to lust,” he wrote. “Every part of woman is ‘sex’.”

 

Klimt did not shy away from depicting “taboo” subjects such as masturbation or lesbian couplings, but the unabashed beauty of these works kept their erotic power in check. The nudes’ frequently supine positions reinforced their passive objecthood, and even in the artist’s most abstract renderings, foreshortening anchored the female subjects in their own separate spaces, thereby securely pinioning them before the gaze of the (presumptively) male viewer. Egon Schiele, on the other hand, willfully violated every aesthetic device that had traditionally been used to contain the nude’s innate eroticism. In his drawings, recumbent figures are frequently depicted vertically rather than horizontally, tipping forward so as to breach the previously sacrosanct boundary between female object and male subject. Schiele’s nudes, especially in the years 1910-15, are seldom beautiful in the usual sense. Body parts are lopped at disconcerting locations and angles, contours are ragged, lines jagged and fevered. Color serves a purely expressive function: it does not hew to the volumes of a three-dimensional body, nor does it observe any other laws of nature. So radical were Schiele’s transgressions of standard artistic practice in his representations of the female nude that some of these works remain controversial to this day.

 

Like Klimt’s, Schiele’s drawings of the nude were very different in outlook from his formal portraits of women. Unlike Klimt, Schiele evidenced a persistent interest in the female personality, and his portraits deepened in incisiveness and sensitivity after his marriage in 1915. The doe-eyed, lovelorn Wally, the elegant ingénue Elisabeth Lederer, and Schiele’s fearsome, slightly depressed mother, all come off as complex, complete human beings—the antitheses of the “soulless” creatures described by Weininger. Curiously, as Schiele’s portraits of women increased in complexity, his renderings of the nude became more conventional. His lines became smoother, more classically beautiful. Though he still sometimes employed skewed viewpoints and disconcerting perspectives, the artist’s use of foreshortening and the rounded contours in his 1917-18 drawings created a palpable illusion of three-dimensional volume. Many of the late nudes were studies for contemporaneous allegories, and so the figures often represented generic “every-women” rather than distinctive individuals. Having fearlessly explored female sexuality in his early twenties, Schiele now reverted to the old Madonna/whore paradigm: the proper bourgeois “lady” had a soul; the naked “tramp” was by comparison a cipher.

 

Female artists in the early twentieth century were by no means immune to prevalent gender stereotypes. Käthe Kollwitz, internalizing the common view that professionally ambitious women were “hermaphrodites,” acknowledged that “the tinge of masculinity within me helped me in my work.” Many feminists advocated employment opportunities only for women (such as widows, orphans and “spinsters”) who through misfortune were denied male providers. Kollwitz’s father encouraged her to pursue artistic training because he thought she was too ugly to find a husband. She, for her part, bemoaned the silliness of her female colleagues, many of whom were merely biding their time in art school as a prelude to marriage. Women were not admitted to the official art academies in Germany or Austria until after World War I, and the separate female art schools were for the most part distinctly inferior. To preserve their virginity, bourgeois girls at the turn of the last century were kept largely ignorant of sexual matters. Because women could as a result study life drawing only at the private academies Julian and Colarossi in Paris, many foreigners (including Kollwitz and Paula Modersohn-Becker) traveled there to study.

 

Lack of experience in drawing naked models, as well as relative unease with her own sexuality, are reflected in the work of Kollwitz and many other female artists of her generation. The nude is “still foreign to me,” she wrote in 1919, when she was already in her fifties. “Only the total attitude and the face and hands speak to me.” Although Kollwitz did produce a small, “secret” body of erotic drawings in response to a short-lived extra-marital affair, Freud would have approved of the way in which she on the whole sublimated her sexuality in the service of motherhood. Many have commented that Kollwitz’s depictions of mothers are her only happy works. Nurturing the seed of future generations was woman’s primary duty, making her also a powerful crusader for social justice and a promoter of pacifism. For Kollwitz, the roles of activist, artist and mother were integrally connected. “As you, the children of my body, have been my tasks,” she told her son Hans, “so too are my other works.” She remained rooted in a biological concept of femininity that was strongly conditioned by contemporary social imperatives.

 

Paula Modersohn-Becker was far more skeptical about the virtues of motherhood. The peasant mothers in her paintings and drawings seem worn down by narrowly circumscribed lives. Their children are like little aliens, lost in separate worlds of fantasy or fear. Of course when Modersohn-Becker created these works she had never really experienced motherhood herself, nor would she. Married in 1901 to the much older painter Otto Modersohn, she soon chafed at his attempts to control her artistic and personal agenda. Recognizing that marriage was at the time incompatible with creative independence, she fled to Paris in 1906. Unfortunately, without support from her husband or family, Paula could not last long, and about a year later Otto brought her back to Germany. She died in November 1907, several days after giving birth to their daughter. Her last words were “Too bad.”

 

Male attempts to force women into the increasingly untenable molds of “lady” or “tramp” spawned a number of debasing moral clichés. Men did not necessarily condemn prostitution, so long as the “tramps” remained socially and economically beholden to them. For example, Max Klinger’s 1884 etching cycle, A Life, chronicles the path of a woman who, after being abandoned by her lover, takes to the stage (at the time considered a compromising vocation), then to the street and finally descends Into the Gutter! She is eventually redeemed by Christ before falling Back into Nothingness in the final plate. Male viewers were prepared to offer sympathy in exchange for female humility and loss. On the other hand, unbridled female sexuality was perceived as a threat. Images of deadly temptresses turn up repeatedly in the early work of Alfred Kubin and in the many popular fin-de-siècle representations of Judith, the Old Testament heroine who seduces and then decapitates Holofernes. Oskar Kokoschka presented a stark iteration of the theme in his 1909 drama Murderer, Hope of Women: if you were a man, it was kill or be killed.

 

Beyond the Madonna/whore divide lay a deeper philosophical chasm. For centuries the male had been associated with civilization, culture, spirituality and intelligence, and the female with primitivism, nature, lust and instinct. While the former qualities were for the most part considered positive and the latter qualities negative, there was a contrarian line of thought, derived from the eighteenth-century writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that idealized the “noble savage.” In the late nineteenth century, as European intellectuals grew increasingly dissatisfied with “rational” civilization, a cult of the “primitive” emerged. Rebelling against bourgeois norms, Expressionists such as Kokoschka and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner educated themselves at local ethnographic museums, appropriating the stylized forms and bright colors of tribal art. Posing their naked models outdoors in the countryside near Dresden, the Brücke artists achieved a perfect synthesis of primitivism, nature and female sexuality. Hermann Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde even traveled to the South Seas in pursuit of exotica, and Otto Mueller joined a band of Gypsies, intrigued by the women’s shameless nudity. Female dancers and circus performers, who likewise embodied uninhibited sensuality, were popular both on the stage and as artistic subjects. Woman thus became the emblem of man’s revolt against convention without in any sense being divested of her inferior cultural associations.

 

Artists’ attempts to recreate a primitive idyll beyond the reaches of modern industrial society were doomed to failure. The city was the engine of economic growth and consequently an unavoidable center of the art market. Two years after the Brücke group relocated from Dresden to Berlin in 1911, it lost its communal integrity and disbanded. Kirchner, nonetheless, was inspired in Berlin to produce some of his strongest works. The artist is justly celebrated for his depictions of sophisticated urban streetwalkers, although his attitude toward his subjects remains difficult to decode. It is not clear whether these seductive sex merchants are symbols of modern alienation, or rather an extension of Kirchner’s fascination with erotic exotica, earlier expressed in terms of bucolic innocence. The rejection of bourgeois mores was for many avant-garde thinkers linked with an opposition to capitalism. Prostitution thus came to represent the dehumanizing commodification of daily life.

 

In Germany after World War I, artists often used prostitutes as symbols of socio-economic exploitation. It had quickly become evident that the ostensibly socialist government of the Weimar Republic was in cahoots with the capitalist industrialists whom leftist thinkers like George Grosz blamed for the war. At the same time, the women’s emancipation movement had made strides only dreamed of before the war. This was the era of the “new woman,” suddenly free to wander public spaces without a chaperone, to work outside the home, to study at the universities and art academies, and to vote. She cropped her hair, abandoned her corsets and shortened her skirts. Even proper young ladies began to acknowledge their sexuality and to recognize that it gave them a degree of power over men. In the cinema, the “tramp” morphed into the “vamp,” a character invented by the American silent-film star Theda Bara. These phenomena breathed new life into the prewar image of woman as vampiric sexual predator.

 

Men’s fear of women was heightened by the feelings of vulnerability and impotence that soldiers had experienced during the war. Returning home, they were determined to take charge, to recoup in the battle of the sexes what had been lost on the battlefield. The carnage of combat had accustomed men to violence, and both Otto Dix and Grosz vented their post-traumatic rage on female subjects. The ugliness of their nudes subverts the classical ideal not in the interest of unleashing female erotic power, but to the contrary, for the purpose of killing all desire. The literal killing (and sometimes dismemberment) of a naked woman, the Lustmord (sex murder), was a favorite theme for Dix and Grosz. Neither artist was especially concerned with women’s personalities. “I could give a shit about depth in a woman,” Grosz wrote. “Usually that means they suffer from a repulsive excess of male characteristics…. I am the only one with a mind.” With a few exceptions, men’s formal portraits of women in the immediate postwar period were as ugly as the nudes. For the most part the “lady” was eclipsed by the “tramp” in Weimar Germany.

 

As a female artist coming of age in the 1920s, Marie-Louise Motesiczky benefited from the period’s new freedoms, but her creative autonomy was protected less by these circumstances than by her family’s wealth. She did not need to marry, nor did she have to sell her work. She could travel as she pleased throughout Europe and America, studying now in Paris, then in Frankfurt with Max Beckmann. A strikingly beautiful woman, she had many lovers, but a special attraction to unavailable geniuses. She vied with her friend Mathilde (Quappi) Kaulbach for Beckmann’s affections and later flirted with Kokoschka (who would shortly marry Olda Palkovská). Finally Motesiczky embarked on a five-decades-long affair with the married writer Elias Canetti. Although Canetti, a notorious philanderer, would eventually break her heart, he was supportive of the artist’s vocation in a way that a husband probably would not have been. Motesiczky knew well what marriage to a great man entailed: Quappi had given up her singing career to marry Beckmann. It seems likely that Motesiczky subconsciously acquiesced to the trade-off implicit in the Canetti affair: better an intellectual love match than the constraints of a conventional marriage. Much of Motesiczky’s work is semiautobiographical, duly chronicling her various relationships—romantic and otherwise. In these works, she is neither lady nor tramp, but a fully rounded human being, in confident command of her personal identity as well as her sexuality.

 

Today it is common to see the lady/tramp dichotomy and the Madonna/whore divide as artifacts of a benighted bygone age. The blatant misogyny of someone like Otto Weininger now has little traction in the West. Nonetheless a debate still quietly rages regarding woman’s biological destiny, and the conflicting demands of motherhood and career are difficult to reconcile. While men have so far been harder hit by the current economic downturn than women, females still earn less than males. As middle-class wages stagnate, males become more likely to vent their anger on the opposite sex, and females to seek economic security in a rich husband. Popular culture teaches little girls to exaggerate their “sex appeal” long before they reach puberty, and grown women resort to extremes of surgical intervention and dieting that are at best dehumanizing and at worst lethal. Men want women to act and look like whores and then blame them if they get raped. As the Dominique Strauss-Kahn story illustrates, in cases of alleged sexual assault the man’s word still carries more weight than the woman’s, especially if mercenary motives can be ascribed to her testimony. Sex remains a commodity, both overtly and covertly. Male dominance is abetted by a moral code designed to denigrate women.

 

Copies of the recently published correspondence between Marie-Louse Motesiczky and Elias Canetti, Liebhaber ohne Adresse (in German, 384 pages, hardbound) may be ordered for $50.00, plus $10.00 per book postage and handling. New York residents please add sales tax. Checklist entries include catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, image dimensions are given for the prints and full dimensions for all other works.