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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

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 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


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


ALL GOOD ART IS POLITICAL

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe

October 26, 2017 - March 10, 2018

ARTISTS

Coe, Sue

Kollwitz, Käthe

ESSAY

All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, “We love the status quo.”... I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. —Toni Morrison

 

Prior to the twentieth century, art’s political grounding was taken for granted. Most European art—religious scenes, portraits and history painting—affirmed the values and legitimacy of the ruling class. As hereditary monarchs came under fire, first in the French Revolution and then in the more widespread but short-lived revolts of 1848, artists gradually lost their aristocratic support base. Painters like David, Ingres and Delacroix embraced the new order, helping shape the myth of modern France as a land of liberty, fraternity and equality. Others assumed a more critical stance. Daumier, whose caricatures at one point landed him in prison, lobbied for greater social justice. Goya, though employed by the Spanish court, created the satirical etching cycle Caprichos and, in response to Napoléon’s aggressive imperialism, the scathing Disasters of War. Egalitarian idealism, coupled with growing social unrest, prompted artists more frequently to depict peasants and workers. Art remained rooted in political realities, but the emphasis shifted.

 

A significant number of artists identified with the forces of reform. The descriptor “avant-garde,” first applied to artists in 1825 by the socialist thinker Olinde Rodrigues, originally had political connotations. Artists, Rodrigues thought, were natural leaders in the struggle to remake society. The modernist stylistic upheavals that swept through Europe at the turn of the last century were not about “art for art’s sake.” Artists were looking for new forms that would give expression to the radically new circumstances of modern life. They wanted to sweep away the stale pictorial and moral conventions of the entrenched bourgeoisie. That modernism could indeed be perceived as a political threat was later affirmed by its suppression under Hitler and Stalin.

 

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) grew up in a family of committed Christian dissidents. Her maternal grandfather, Julius Rupp, was the pastor of an underground Protestant congregation, the Free Society of Königsberg. Hounded by the police, fined and jailed, Rupp taught the future artist to value freedom of conscience over obeisance to the state. Though Kollwitz was not especially religious, she believed in duty, sacrifice and service to a higher cause. She viewed socialism as a secular path to “God’s kingdom on earth”—imagined by her grandfather as a classless society with equality and justice for all. Karl and Konrad Schmidt, the artist’s father and brother, were among the founding members of the German Social Democratic Party.

 

The German socialists supported women’s rights, and therefore Karl Schmidt encouraged his daughter’s professional aspirations. He dreamed she might become an acclaimed history painter. But such an achievement—then the pinnacle of artistic success—was unattainable for a woman. Prohibited from enrolling at the Academy, females were shunted into the lesser areas of creative endeavor—crafts, printmaking, at most landscape or portrait painting. Fearful of competition, men not only restricted women’s career options, but issued lengthy prescriptive pronouncements about the nature of femininity. Women, they opined, lacked the intellect, objectivity and spiritual understanding required to create anything of note; females could best serve the arts as muses. It was perhaps with these ideas in mind that Kollwitz later ascribed her professional persistence to the “masculine” aspects of her character.

 

Propelled by personal preference as well as the available educational opportunities, Kollwitz made her way, through a succession of women’s art schools and private lessons, to printmaking. It was a fortuitous choice, because history painting in the grand tradition was waning, along with the aristocracy. History as a subject, however, could better be depicted in a sequence of prints than in a single painted image. Inspired by the print cycles of Max Klinger, Kollwitz’s first foray in this realm was Revolt of the Weavers, a series of three lithographs and three etchings loosely based on Gerhart Hauptmann’s play about the 1844 Silesian weavers’ rebellion. The Weavers prints (1893-97) evidenced a mastery of craft and nuance heretofore seen only in academic history painting: the orchestration of complex figural groupings and subtle chiaroscuro effects in a variety of evocative pictorial spaces to convey a compelling dramatic narrative. Kollwitz’s intensive engagement with the expressive capabilities of printmaking techniques parallels, and to some extent precedes, the work of modernists such as Edvard Munch and the German Brücke artists, but Kollwitz’s prints were revolutionary less in form than in content. And while for male modernists printmaking was always secondary to work in other, more “important” mediums, for Kollwitz it remained primary.

 

Revolt of the Weavers and Kollwitz’s next, similarly themed print cycle, Peasant War (1902-08), treated both genders as comrades in arms. This was in keeping with the tenets of German socialist feminism, which held that proletarian men and women were united under the yoke of capitalism and would be liberated together when that yoke was lifted. However, through exposure to the working-class patients of her husband Karl Kollwitz, a physician, the artist began to recognize that proletarian women had unique problems stemming from their subordination to and dependency on proletarian men. “As soon as the man drinks or gets sick or loses his job, the same thing always happens,” Kollwitz observed. “Either he hangs like a dead weight on his family and lets them support him...or he becomes depressed... or crazy... or he kills himself.”

 

Kollwitz grew increasingly concerned with women’s issues such as inadequate wages, temperance, domestic violence and lack of access to contraception or abortion. After completing the Peasant War series, she took her subjects from lived experience rather than history, and motherhood came to assume a central role in her work. The mother’s instinctual drive to save her children from harm was rendered with an evocative realism that encouraged viewers to empathize with the woman’s plight. At the same time, the images were a symbolic call to action, an invocation to fashion a world that would be safe for future generations.

 

Like many progressive Europeans on both sides of the conflict, Kollwitz initially imagined that World War I would wipe away the stale remnants of bourgeois materialism and lead to a renewal of human society. Steeled by a deeply ingrained sense of duty, she was even prepared to sacrifice her teenaged son, Peter, for the greater good. She grudgingly granted him permission to volunteer, and was devastated when he fell on the Belgian front scarcely two months later. It was hard for the artist to accept that her boy had died for nothing. She only gradually grew to understand not just that this particular war was pointless, but that all wars hobble humanity by eviscerating the rising generation. “Seed-corn,” Kollwitz declared (quoting Goethe), “must not be ground.”

 

World War I transformed Kollwitz into a committed pacifist. Unlike Otto Dix and George Grosz, whose depictions of the war were conditioned by their army experiences, her War cycle (1921-22) emphasized the home front. In the first plate, The Sacrifice (Das Opfer), a mother holds her infant aloft, as though offering him to the gods. But the German word Opfer also means “victim,” and it is clear that the artist’s interpretation is elegiac rather than heroic. Another plate, The Volunteers, shows a surge of youth heedlessly following the drumbeat of death, Peter’s face recognizable at the forefront. In a 1923 antiwar poster commissioned by the International Federation of Trade Unions and distributed in fourteen languages, Kollwitz focused on the “survivors,” whom she described as “women huddled together in a black lump, protecting their children just as animals do with their own brood.” In 1924, on the tenth anniversary of World War I, she created the iconic poster Never Again War!

 

No longer the naïve revolutionary who once dreamed of joining her father and brother on the barricades, Kollwitz found it impossible to take sides in the political conflicts that roiled the Weimar Republic. The Social Democrats were too susceptible to rightwing pressure, the Communists too prone to violence. Nevertheless, Peter’s death had redoubled her desire to serve humankind in the broadest sense. She was quick to lend her art in support of any cause that moved her: the food shortages that swept through Germany, Austria and Russia after the war, the plight of prisoners, the poor and, as always, the extra burden shouldered by women and children. Her aim was to “bear witness,” to “express...the suffering of human beings.” “My art serves a purpose,” Kollwitz continued. “I want to exert an influence in my own time, in which human beings are so helpless and destitute.”

 

Kollwitz’s rejection of any fixed ideology did not keep her work from being appropriated for unintended political ends. Even the Nazis, who quickly eliminated all the artist’s professional outlets, found a use for one of her lithographs, Bread! Though Kollwitz was never a Communist, the East Germans made her their own after World War II. In the West, which sought to whitewash the reality of Nazi collusion, she was offered up as the prototypical “good German.” The evident ease with which socially engaged art could be misappropriated for propaganda purposes prompted many artists to back away from politics in the second half of the twentieth century.

 

During the Cold War, U.S. cultural policy willfully discredited any sort of political art. Figurative work was dismissed based on its superficial resemblance to Soviet Socialist Realism. The history of prewar European modernism was rewritten to downplay the artists’ humanistic motivations and oftentimes socialist leanings. The critic Clement Greenberg seconded and advanced Alfred Barr’s formalist approach, which drove the agenda at the Museum of Modern Art. The goal, Greenberg decreed, was to create a work of art xso vacuous that it could not “be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself.” Lauded for its lack of apparent content, Abstract Expressionism was used by the American government to galvanize intellectual opposition to Communism and to promote the ideal of democratic freedom abroad.

 

As the Cold War example demonstrates, it is remarkably difficult to disentangle even ostensibly apolitical art from the dominant power structure. The art world’s attempt to distance itself from the real world in the mistaken belief that this will keep the work “pure” does not solve the problem of misappropriation. Yet artists today remain torn between a desire to address pressing social concerns such as racism, income inequality and climate change, and the arcane visual language favored by the art world. “There’s... too much inbred art about itself or otherwise so specialized that it takes reams of explaining in almost unreadable texts just to say why it’s relevant at all,” the critic Jerry Saltz wrote in a recent jeremiad. “And the things that might feel relevant, or radical, in another context often get so buffered and wrapped in the wealth of the system...that they cease to offer anything new-seeming.” Genuine political engagement is still fundamentally at odds with contemporary art-world practice.

 

Sue Coe (b. 1951) is not of the art world. As a girl, she assumed she would become a factory worker, like her mother, or a secretary. Art was her escape, at first emotionally and then literally, from a working-class fate. When she was seventeen, Coe got a scholarship to attend the Chelsea School of Art in London, where she trained to be an illustrator. “I knew I had to make a living at art. No one was going to support me except myself,” she recalls. “[Illustration] was one of the few career paths that was open to women: children’s books, or greeting card illustrations, or a job making wallpaper designs (flowers are ‘female’).” In 1972 Coe moved to New York and began doing editorial illustration for The New York Times and similar publications. Designing for the printed page taught the artist to refine her visual messaging. “If the images are not an effective lure,” she explains, “immediately compelling or accessible, the viewer will not consider reading the content.” While then unfamiliar with Klinger’s treatise Painting and Drawing, Coe, like Kollwitz, instinctively understood that black-and-white is better suited to social criticism than color.

 

Coe had developed the first shreds of a political consciousness protesting the Vietnam War as a student in London. “I could see this was a moral stand,” she remembers, “even though at the time I didn’t know Karl from Groucho.” In New York, she joined the Arts Club, a place where aging Marxists, many of them survivors of the Great Depression and the McCarthy-era blacklist, met to discuss politics and print posters in support of local issues like tenants’ rights. She also broadened her aesthetic horizons, discovering the work of Daumier, Dix, Goya, Grosz and, of course, Kollwitz. Free of formalist dogma and its concomitant prescriptions, which still gripped American academia, Coe selected from the broad panoply of art history those influences that spoke to her. Tired of the constraints imposed by her editors, she also began choosing her own subjects and working on a larger scale.

 

Coe made her reputation as an artist in the mid 1980s with canvases based on headline events, including the notorious pool-table rape of a New Bedford woman (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art) and the “subway vigilante,” Bernard Goetz. However (again like Kollwitz), she preferred to work in series that facilitated a more in-depth exploration. “My preference,” she says, “is to choose a topic, or have it choose me, and research it and do it well over a decade.” Coe’s approach is journalistic, and she likes to see her images accompanied by factual reportage, preferably in book form. In 1983, she published her first book, with text by Holly Metz, How to Commit Suicide in South Africa. This and her next book, X (The Life and Times of Malcolm X) (1986), explored the relationship between racial prejudice and genocide. More generally, Coe’s work has been an indictment of the ways in which capitalism subjugates the weak, dividing society into classes of oppressors and victims. Writing in the catalogue of her 1987-89 traveling retrospective, Police State, the art historian Donald Kuspit credited the artist with creating “a new genre, somewhere between political cartoon and history painting.”

 

Essentially, Sue Coe picked up where Kollwitz left off. Coe views herself as “a witness” who uses art “to help serve justice and highlight the oppression that is concealed.” Even in our media-saturated environment, there are incidents—such as police shootings or the so-called suicides of jailed anti-apartheid activists—that can only be recreated after the fact, and locations—such as slaughterhouses—where cameras are not allowed. There are also a great many horrific places—such as prisons, AIDS wards and sweatshops—that we know exist but prefer to ignore. Coe’s job is to go there, observe and record. “People think they can choose to be indifferent,” she explains, “and the filter of art is a useful veil to present the reality. It opens up a chance to have a dialogue where the viewer asks questions and is more open to the challenge of change.”

 

For Coe, the predations of capitalism transcend the specifics of identity politics, uniting all socioeconomic minorities in common oppression. Growing up near a slaughterhouse on the outskirts of London, she came to view non-human animals as part of an overriding continuum of corporate violence. “We need economic, gender and species equality,” she declares. Today the sort of widespread hunger depicted by Kollwitz is rarely seen in developed nations. Instead, we suffer from the problems of overproduction, which are subtler and more globally diffuse: malnutrition, the destruction of indigenous crops, deforestation and sweeping environmental degradation. Agribusiness and the meat industry are behind many of these calamities, Coe points out. “Animal agriculture is among the leading causes of climate change,” she says. “Animals as a class of beings are facing extinction.” Coe sees farmed animals as analogous to the children in Kollwitz’s work: innocent creatures trod under by the malevolence of an unjust system; creatures that stand both for themselves and for the future, in that their persecution reflects existential environmental concerns.

 

From the outset, Coe’s art has been predicated on the belief that, “if people know the facts, they’ll change the system.” How to Commit Suicide in South Africa was widely used as an organizing tool on college campuses, supporting the disinvestment movement that ultimately contributed to the end of apartheid. Since Coe began focusing on animal rights in the late 1980s, people have become much more aware of issues first highlighted in her work: the immense cruelty of factory farming; the meat industry’s disproportionate consumption of natural resources; the concomitant pollution and degradation of our food supply. In fact, these consciousness-raising efforts have proved so successful that Coe worries animal welfare will come to overshadow animal rights. She does not merely want to improve conditions for food animals, but to end meat consumption altogether. She sees her work as empowering viewers with a simple message: go vegan. “Changing what we eat is one way to do something positive for the environment and to help other people,” Coe says. “We can control what we put into our mouths, what we put into our bodies, and with this starting point, who knows what is possible?”

 

Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe are outliers in the context of an art world that, even in its more rebellious moments, has tended to serve the interests of the powerful. Both artists found niches in genres— printmaking and illustration—that connect directly with the general public but are not heavily contested by men. And as women, each intuitively understood the far-ranging effects of discrimination and oppres- sion. “Women are closer to the heel of the boot,” Coe observes. “They are forced into the roles of being the caretaker, the peacemaker, and as such are the last line of defense for the most vulnerable.”

 

Rooted in the real world, the art of Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe communicates with people in a visual language they understand. Though their styles are very different, both artists combine immediately recognizable representational elements with an expressive abbreviation of form that directly engages the emotions. Kollwitz sometimes spent years refining a single image, trying out variations until she found the most effective synthesis of content and form. “It’s always been a balance of form and content, throughout the history of art,” Coe notes. “The work must achieve a level of technique to convince the viewer to look at the sincerity of the content.” “Admittedly, my art is not ‘pure’ art,” Kollwitz declared. “But art nonetheless.” One-hundred-and-fifty years after the older artist’s birth, the magnitude of her accomplishment still resonates, not just with followers like Coe, but with those of us who know we have yet to achieve equality and justice for all.

 

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Sibylle von Heydebrand and Daniel Stoll for lending so many of their Kollwitz treasures to our exhibition. This show would not have been possible without their cooperation. The Galerie St. Etienne’s exhibition coordinator, Fay Beilis Duftler, also provided invaluable contributions to the project. Copies of Sue Coe’s latest book (her seventh), The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto, (122 pages, 115 black & white illustrations, soft-cover) may be purchased for $17.00, plus $10.00 shipping and handling. New York residents, please add sales tax. Checklist entries are accompanied by their catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Image dimensions are given for prints, full dimensions for all other works.