Founded in 1939, the Galerie St. Etienne is the oldest gallery in the United States specializing in Austrian and German Expressionism. We mounted the first American one-person shows of such artists as Erich Heckel (1955), Gustav Klimt (1959), Oskar Kokoschka (1940), Alfred Kubin (1941), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1958) and Egon Schiele (1941). St. Etienne was also instrumental in arranging the first American museum acquisitions of works by these artists, through sales and donations. Firmly committed to scholarship, the gallery’s directors have authored catalogues raisonné on Richard Gerstl, Grandma Moses and Egon Schiele. Current co-director Jane Kallir has written over 20 books and is the leading authority on Schiele. Her partner, Hildegard Bachert, is renowned for her expertise on Käthe Kollwitz.
The Galerie St. Etienne developed a commitment to the work of self-taught American and European artists after “discovering” Grandma Moses, who had her first one-person show here in 1940. The gallery has represented Moses ever since. We have also worked with the estates of Ilija Bosilj (Basicevic), Henry Darger, Morris Hirshfield and John Kane, as well as the artists of Gugging, Austria. While our focus is on self-taught artists of the prewar period, Jane Kallir has written extensively about contemporary “Outsider” art and Art Brut.
The Galerie St. Etienne’s predecessor, the Neue Galerie, was founded in Vienna in 1923 by Jane Kallir’s grandfather, Otto Kallir (1894-1978). Having opened with the first posthumous Egon Schiele retrospective, the Neue Galerie was also the exclusive Austrian representative of such major artists as Alfred Kubin and Oskar Kokoschka. In 1930, Otto Kallir rescued from oblivion the legacy of Richard Gerstl, today ranked with Schiele and Kokoschka as one of Austria's major Expressionists. Also in 1930, Kallir published the first catalogue raisonné of Schiele's paintings. Kallir functioned as a publisher of limited edition prints, working with such artists as Max Beckmann, Johannes Itten, Oskar Kokoschka and Alfred Kubin--all of whom he knew well.
After immigrating to the United States in 1939, Otto Kallir established New York's Galerie St. Etienne and helped to introduce Austrian Expressionism to this country. Looking for art that captured the uniqueness of his newly adopted homeland, Kallir became interested in American folk art and was among the first to recognize the importance of Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses. After World War II, he was one of the only dealers to assist with the restitution of art looted during the Holocaust. The gallery’s archives proved instrumental in reviving this issue in the 1980s and ‘90s, and continue to serve as an important resource for provenance researchers. In 2004, the collector Ronald Lauder honored Otto Kallir by naming his New York Museum of Austrian and German Art the Neue Galerie.