Past Exhibitions

All Good Art is Political

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe

October 26, 2017 - March 10, 2018

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

(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

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


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


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 America 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


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


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


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


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


Self-Taught Artists

January 18, 2005 - March 26, 2005


Basicevic, Ilija Bosilj

Bauchant, André

Bombois, Camille

Corbaz, Aloïse

Crepin, Joseph

Darger, Henry

Evans, Minnie

Fischer, Johann

Garber, Johann

Gill, Madge

Hauser, Johann

Hicks, Edward

Hirshfield, Morris

Kane, John

Kernbeis, Franz

Lesage, Augustin

Milton, S.F.

Moses, Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma")

Nedjar, Michel


Phillips, Ammi

Pickett, Joseph

Prior-Hamblen School

Rädler, Josef Karl

Ramirez, Martin

Reisenbauer, Heinrich

Schröder-Sonnenstern, F.

Traylor, Bill

Tschirtner, Oswald

Vivin, Louis

Walla, August

Wilson, Scottie

Wölfli, Adolf

Zinelli, Carlo


The Galerie St. Etienne, presently celebrating its 65th anniversary, may well be the oldest gallery in the world specializing in the work of self-taught artists. Like many early proponents of modernism, Otto Kallir, the gallery’s founder, was interested in art produced outside the confines of academia. He emigrated to the United States from his native Austria in 1939 predisposed to appreciate America’s endemic traditions of non-academic art. In fact, he found this work more vital and original than much of the relatively derivative contemporary art that then dominated the Manhattan gallery scene. Kallir is best known for discovering Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses, who had her first one-woman show at the Galerie St. Etienne in 1940. However, he actively promoted a broad range of non-academic material, including Native American work from the Southwest and nineteenth-century folk paintings. Since Kallir’s death in 1978, the Galerie St. Etienne has both continued and expanded upon its involvement with self-taught art. To the estate of Grandma Moses, the gallery added representation of the estate of John Kane in 1984, and of Henry Darger in 1999. Within the evolving realm of Outsider Art, the gallery has focused on Europeans such as Ilija Bosilj, Michel Nedjar, Josef Karl Rädler and the artists of Gugging. Given the scope of its endeavors, St. Etienne’s current anniversary presents an ideal opportunity to examine the history of self-taught art over the last 65 years.


From the outset, it must be noted that the history of self-taught art differs markedly from the history of the field of self-taught art. The urge to create is universal; humans have always made art, and will continue to do so, regardless of whether they receive formal training. However, in both Europe and the U.S., unschooled creative efforts were considered of little interest or merit prior to the twentieth century. Modernism changed all this by privileging the “other” as a repository of values allegedly untainted by the stultifying influence of bourgeois civilization. Into this catchall category of the “other,” pioneer modernists such as Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky threw a host of non-academic and/or non-Western creations, including African tribal sculptures, children’s drawings, folk icons and Japanese woodcuts. However, the art of untrained adult contemporaries came to occupy a special, lasting place as an adjunct to the modernist enterprise. Unlike the products of other “schools” of modernism--say Cubism or Abstract Expressionism--self-taught artworks are not bound by a single identifiable style. Self-taught art is a category defined in the negative: not by what the artists are, but by what they lack. Modernists created the field of self-taught art by grouping together a hodgepodge of works that had little in common.


The course of art history is directed by the interactions of numerous figures, including artists, dealers, collectors, critics, curators, teachers and art historians. In the mainstream art world, artists play a key role in shaping the dialogue that occurs among these disparate players: artists consciously follow the dialogue, respond to it and, through their responses, move the conversation forward. Self-taught artists, by way of contrast, are by definition barred from participating actively in the art-world dialogue. Notwithstanding the current prevalence of the term “self-taught,” such artists are in practice distinguished less by whether or not they went to art school than by an inability to follow the mainstream conversation. Thus an essentially self-taught artist like Vincent van Gogh is admitted without question to the modernist canon, while Achilles Rizzoli, despite his architectural training, is considered an “outsider” master. The field of self-taught or “outsider” art (as distinct from the art itself) has been shaped largely by players other than the makers of the art (though the active participants have often included trained artists). It is therefore no surprise that the field of self-taught art is more geared to meeting the needs of the art-world insiders who serve as its gatekeepers, than it is to the imperatives of the actual artists and their art.


Four significant signposts mark the entrance of the self-taught sensibility into modernist consciousness: the inclusion of Henri Rousseau, together with the “Fauves” Matisse, Derain, Braque, Rouault and Dufy, in the 1905 Salon d’Automne; Rousseau’s inclusion again, this time accompanied by illustrations of Bavarian folk paintings, “primitive” carvings and Egyptian shadow puppets, in the 1912 Blaue Reiter Almanac; Walter Morgenthaler’s 1921 monograph on the schizophrenic genius Adolf Wölfli; and the publication in 1922 of Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill. Kandinsky, leader of the Blaue Reiter group and one of the most eloquent theorists of early modernism, clearly articulated the lessons he and his colleagues hoped to learn from Rousseau and other non-academic creators. Academically schooled artists, Kandinsky declared, produce work that is technically proficient but spiritually dead; they have lost the ability to hear and thereby capture the ”inner resonance” of their subjects. This attack on the Academy contained an embedded political subtext. Elevating the creations of the uneducated classes and supposedly inferior non-European cultures was an implicit challenge to the prevailing social order. The modernists believed that this order was dying, and therefore they looked outside its boundaries in their attempts to fashion a meaningful formal language. Morgenthaler’s and Prinzhorn’s work with mental patients enabled the modernists to extend their search for new forms further, into the realm of the unconscious.


By the 1920s, modernism was beginning to gain broader acceptance among dealers, critics, collectors and curators, and this phenomenon brought with it a growing appreciation of self-taught art. Wilhelm Uhde, a German art historian and dealer working in Paris, hunted about for artists similar to Rousseau and came up with a group he dubbed the “Painters of the Sacred Heart” (André Bauchant, Camille Bombois, Séraphine Louis and Louis Vivin). Uhde’s writings and indeed the very name of his group reflect the romanticizing spin that came to attend self-taught art as it entered the marketplace. These creators were assumed to be somehow purer and more innocent than ordinary people. Apparent accolades such as “naïve” and “primitive” (then the terms of choice for the genre) were actually patronizing and demeaning. The emphasis had shifted subtly from the work itself to the artists’ personalities. Hereafter, judgments about self-taught art would often be tainted by an untenable element of subjectivity: for how, after all, does one tell if an artist truly possesses a “sacred heart”?


The advent of modernism in America likewise sparked interest in self-taught art. However, from the outset American self-taught art and its partisans were slightly different from their European counterparts. For one thing, America never had art academies until the late nineteenth century, so prior to that time direct contact with elite European aesthetic traditions was maintained chiefly by the tiny minority of connoisseurs and artists who could afford to travel back and forth. Consequently, many professional American painters were self-taught or, at best, semi-taught. Itinerant portrait painters such as the Prior-Hamblen family traveled the roads of New England painting stylized likenesses that combined speed of execution with formal ingenuity. Some of these so-called limners, such as Ammi Phillips, developed remarkably complex pictorial skills. Rarely, one finds an artist like the Quaker minister Edward Hicks, whose highly sophisticated religious iconography was matched by extensive technical ability. Before the twentieth century, American self-taught painters served the needs of a largely rural population for imagery reflecting their world. Yet to the extent that these artists aped, yet could not master, academic representationalism, theirs were considered botched efforts by those who knew better. Self-taught art carried the burden of America’s subliminal inferiority complex, confirming fears that we were less cultured than our European forebears and contemporaries.


In the late nineteenth century, industrialization led to an increase in leisure time and the broader dissemination of imagery through photography and lithography. These developments simultaneously killed off the market for professional limner portraits and encouraged the proliferation of amateur painters. Early surveys of American self-taught art, such as Holger Cahill’s pioneering 1930 exhibition at the Newark Museum, concentrated on paintings from the pre-industrial period, which were seen to form a continuum with more traditional folk objects, such as quilts, pottery, samplers and duck decoys. However, contemporary artists and curators familiar with recent developments in Europe were looking for “an American Rousseau,” and they found their man in the person of Pittsburgh house painter John Kane. Kane, admitted to the prestigious Carnegie International Exhibition in 1927, became the first living American self-taught painter to be recognized by the art establishment. No less a personage than Alfred Barr, founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, declared self-taught art to be one of the three principal strands of modernism, together with abstraction and Surrealism. During its first decade, MoMA held two seminal presentations on the subject: The Art of the Common Man, in 1932, focused on pre-modern work, while Masters of Popular Painting, in 1938, covered contemporary material. By 1942, when MoMA board-member Sidney Janis published his book They Taught Themselves, he was able to count thirty recent “discoveries,” including not just Kane, but Morris Hirshfield, Lawrence Lebduska, Israel Litwak, Grandma Moses, Joseph Pickett and Horace Pippin.


The nascent field of self-taught art in America reflected a number of disparate and to some extent conflicting ideals. As suggested by the title Art of the Common Man, the field was seen as the quintessential expression of “the people,” embodying such American values as individualism and native ingenuity. Whereas European self-taught art was in part a challenge to dominant social hierarchies, self-taught art in America inspired patriotic pride. Evolving during the Depression and concurrently with the mainstream movement known as Regionalism, interest in self-taught art also had an anti-elitist component, favoring the rural and homespun over the urbane and polished. Yet herein lies a paradox that haunts the field of self-taught art to this day: it was and is an anti-elitist genre promoted by an elite. Since modernism in the 1930s was both elitist and basically European, trained American artists felt doubly excluded. Not only did it seem that they were constantly being passed over in favor of foreign contemporaries, but they were incensed that when an institution such as the Carnegie or MoMA did finally choose to showcase an American, the honor went to some “bumbler” like Kane or the retired garment-worker Morris Hirshfield. Indigenous animus against self-taught art also drew upon Americans’ deep-seated feelings of cultural inferiority: France had Picasso, and we had . . . Grandma Moses? The advent of Abstract Expressionism after World War II seemed to solve this problem, giving the United States a modernist movement that could hold its own against European art. Grandma Moses, one of the most famous artists of the period, was dismissed in serious art circles as merely a popular phenomenon.


So the American art-world elite went back to supporting their own kind. MoMA and other mainstream museums that had acquired works by self-taught artists relegated much or all of it to the basement and excised the subject from their active exhibition programs. Gradually, specialist institutions such as the Museum of American Folk Art in New York (established in 1961; today the American Folk Art Museum) and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe (established in 1953) stepped into the breach, but widespread reliance on the term “folk” reflected an approach that effectively defined post-industrial material out of existence. It was once again left to a European artist, Jean Dubuffet, to put contemporary self-taught art back on the art-world’s radar screen. Where Picasso and Kandinsky had only flirted with various types of non-academic art, Dubuffet from the 1940s onward generated a large body of literature on the subject and accumulated an immense collection of psychiatric art, which became the core of the first museum of its kind, the Musée de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dubuffet echoed and elaborated upon the views of earlier modernists: the art produced within the confines of what he called “received culture” was not only spiritually dead but, given the cultural legacy of Nazism and fascism, morally reprehensible. Dubuffet saw a redemptive alternative in Art Brut (raw art), art created without overt artistic intention or influence.


In attempting to define Art Brut in his extensive writings, Dubuffet inadvertently shone a spotlight on the various ideological inconsistencies that had always afflicted the field of self-taught art. Can one really create “art” without on some level intending to? And don’t all artists naturally absorb visual influences from their environments, even—or especially—if they do not attend art school? In attempting to calibrate artists’ distance from “received culture,” Dubuffet was forced to designate a second category, Neuve Invention (new invention), for works that fell somewhere between the “raw” and the fully “cooked” and to admit that both cultural extremes exist only in theory. Like Uhde before him, Dubuffet got mired in a viewpoint that placed too much emphasis on the artists’ personalities and personal circumstances. Often biography was used to qualify artists for inclusion in the category of Art Brut or its English-language mate, Outsider Art. Membership in the ranks of pre-World-War-II self-taught artists, from Rousseau through Grandma Moses, had been determined largely by socio-economic limitations, which kept these creatively inclined individuals out of art school. In the post-war period, the mass media made “received culture” harder to evade, and the new categories of Art Brut and Outsider Art cultivated creators who, because of extreme mental or emotional impairment, were remote not just from mainstream culture but from mainstream society.


Whereas the pre-war “naïves” usually crafted recognizable depictions of their surroundings, mimicking the conventional academic genres of portraiture, landscape and still life, “outsiders” are comparatively more inward looking, focusing on visions and fantasies that are often comprehensible only to themselves. These aesthetic differences are in part an outgrowth of the typologically distinct personal histories of the two groups of artists, but the art world’s preference for one group over the other also reflects shifting patterns in taste. A broader understanding of abstraction in the post-war period has made it possible to appreciate the work of obsessive visionaries like Madge Gill and psychiatric patients like Martin Ramirez, elevating a model of creativity that goes back to Wölfli and the Prinzhorn artists. Marked variations in style and substance notwithstanding, however, it can sometimes be hard to know where to draw the line between naïve art and Art Brut. In Europe, the two camps tend to be strictly divided, while in America, the prevalent use of the term “self-taught” suggests a melding together of all the pertinent artists.


American self-taught art is more inclusive than any one of its European antecedents in part because of the multi-faceted way the field has evolved in this country since World War II. A 1951 lecture by Dubuffet at the Chicago Art Club helped, both directly and indirectly, to spark local interest in Art Brut. By the 1960s, a number of Chicago artists had become interested in the genre, beginning with European examples such as Joseph Crépin, Aloïse Corbaz, Augustin Lesage, Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern and Scottie Wilson, and then proceeding to unearth American equivalents that included Joseph Yoakum, Ramirez and, slightly later, Henry Darger. At around the same time, Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., a cofounder and early curator at the Museum of American Folk Art, and the collectors Michael and Julie Hall began combing the country in search of offbeat handcrafted treasures. Not quite folk art, not quite Art Brut, these treasures might include carved walking sticks, face jugs, homemade shrines, thrift-shop portraits and mementos from imagined alien abductions. Yet a third strand of self-taught artistic activity was highlighted in the Corcoran Gallery’s landmark 1982 Black Folk Art in America exhibition, which focused on African-Americans working mainly in the rural South. Despite the Corcoran show and a few pioneering exhibitions mounted by Hemphill at the Folk Art Museum in the early 1970s, the field of self-taught art in America developed largely without institutional backing or direction. Collectors and dealers took to the road and bought what they liked, and each was free to define the field as he or she chose.


This freewheeling phase in the history of modern self-taught art is now coming to an end. The American Folk Art Museum solidified its growing commitment to the field with the establishment of the Contemporary Center in 1997 and the Henry Darger Study Center in 2000. Smaller institutions like the Intuit Center in Chicago and the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore have entered the arena, which also abounds with magazines, books, symposia, college classes and all the other paraphernalia of academia. Mainstream museums have been slower to fully embrace self-taught art, but there are indications—such as the massive 1998 survey Self-Taught Artists of the Twentieth Century at the Philadelphia Museum—that this, too, will come, at least for the most widely recognized “stars,” like Traylor and Darger. Far more significant is the sweeping manner in which mainstream contemporary art has absorbed—one might almost say co-opted—the “outsider” aesthetic. Phantasmagorical visions, compulsive nested skeins of lines and letters, perverse sexual musings, imagery poached from the trash bin of popular culture and materials scavenged literally from the garbage abound in the work exhibited today at museums, art fairs and galleries. But for the biographies of the artists, this work is indistinguishable from much Outsider Art.


Interest in Outsider Art was sparked in part by the multiculturalism of the past two decades, and it is not surprising that these same impulses should also emerge in the greater post-modern art world. The cohesive narratives that figures like Alfred Barr and the critic Clement Greenberg once imposed upon modernism have been replaced by a cacophony of voices that are no longer strictly Euro-centric in their origin or viewpoint. In an increasingly diffuse global artistic environment, the concept of one mainstream voice and an “other” makes no sense. The blurring of the boundaries between “inside” and “outside” presents potential identity problems for institutions, dealers and other individuals that define the field and by extension themselves strictly in opposition to the mainstream. At the same time, the current situation offers an opportunity to return to self-taught artists the dignity that they lost when their work was subsumed under the rubric of the “other.” Just as African and Japanese art was long ago removed from this demeaning category and restored to its own intrinsic cultural surround, the painters now labeled “naïve,” “folk,” “brut” or “outsider” would more productively be studied in their particular social and historical contexts. Because Dubuffet and others castigated the presence of external influences and overt artistic intention, it was until recently all but taboo to examine the factors that make self-taught art art: the ways in which the self-taught integrate various source materials to fashion unique expressive idioms and, through practice, develop and perfect those idioms over time. Only when these factors are fully understood and appreciated is it possible to form reasoned judgments of quality, instead of obsessing about extrinsic issues like biography: to treat this work just like any other kind of art.


We would like to thank all the lenders whose generous cooperation has made this exhibition possible, including Sam and Betsey Farber, Jennifer Pinto Safian and several anonymous collectors. Checklist entries include catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. A selection of the exhibited works can be viewed online at