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


Featuring Watercolors and Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection

March 29, 2016 - July 1, 2016


Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig


“Ecstatic drawing is the foundation of the new art” –E.L. Kirchner, 1919


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), cofounder and erstwhile leader of the North-German Brücke (Bridge) group, has been called the quintessential Expressionist. But Expressionism (a descriptor Kirchner himself repudiated) is remarkably difficult to define. It is believed that the first appearance of this label in a contemporary context occurred in the introduction to a 1911 catalogue featuring French painters like Braque, Derain and Picasso. The term refers most broadly to art that, in contrast to Impressionism, looks beyond surface appearance. Expressionism only came to be identified as a specifically German brand of modernism under the nationalistic pressures generated by World War I. Nonetheless, even in Germany the genre assumed different guises in different places and at different times.


German Expressionism can be divided into a prewar, utopian phase, associated with Die Brücke and the Munich-based Blauer Reiter (Blue Rider) group, and a dystopian phase, associated with Weimar-era artists such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and George Grosz. (Though the latter contingent also blends into the equally ill-defined movement known as Neue Sachlichkeit [New Objectivity].) Kirchner, whose personal and artistic life was fundamentally shaken by World War I, exemplified both the utopian and the dystopian tendencies that were central to German art of the period. Ultimately he transcended labels. “The man,” Kirchner said of himself, “is simply a painter.”


Neither Kirchner nor the three other Brücke founders were originally painters. In fact, neither he, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel nor Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who met while studying architecture at the Technical College of Saxony in Dresden, had much formal training in art. They taught one another as they taught themselves, sharing studios, models and influences in pursuit of common, albeit vaguely articulated goals. Kindred spirits were invited to join Die Brücke as active or passive members (who provided financial support by subscribing to the group’s annual print portfolio). Additional artists, most notably Otto Mueller, Emil Nolde and Hermann Max Pechstein, came and went.


Some months after Die Brücke’s establishment in June 1905, Kirchner created a pair of woodcuts setting forth the group’s program. Like the slightly earlier Austrian Secession and the popular Munich periodical Jugend, the Brücke artists advocated a youthful new approach to art. “We call upon the young,” they declared, “who will bear the future, who want freedom in our work and in our lives, independence from older established forces.” The most frequently cited source for the group’s name is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "What is great in man is that he is a bridge, not a goal." The Brücke artists saw themselves simultaneously as a bridge to the future and a bridge between Germany and the rest of the world. Equally important for Kirchner were the linkages between art and life, and between the visible and the invisible. These metaphysical bridges would resonate in his work long after Die Brücke had disbanded.


The Brücke artists shared an idealistic belief in the transformative power of art and a contempt for bourgeois civilization. Common among fin-de-siècle intellectuals, the latter impulse can be traced to the eighteenth-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who had extolled the primordial virtues of “natural man.” The Brücke’s notion of progress was thus backward looking, entailing the return to an innocence that they recognized in the art of “primitive” societies (which influenced Kirchner’s work and his self-made studio decor) and in the Edenic landscape at the Moritzburg ponds (where the group regularly vacationed). The urban studio and the rural retreat each offered a refuge from conventional society. Here naked women cavorted freely, seemingly unburdened by any residue of Christian shame. Young girls were portrayed as avatars of prelapsarian purity, titillating yet chaste. Like little Eves, they appear unaware of their nudity. The goal, in Kirchner’s words, was to depict “free human beings in free naturalness.”


The Brücke models—neighborhood children, friends and girlfriends—worked together with the artists in a spirit of bohemian camaraderie. Kirchner and his colleagues favored fifteen-minute poses, which forced them to make quick, shorthand notations. Rejecting the ponderous academic approach, the Brücke artists forswore interior modeling in favor of bold contour drawing. To translate three-dimensional subjects into two-dimensional representations, Kirchner developed a vocabulary of abbreviated forms. He referred to these as hieroglyphs, “not in the sense of a word, in which a particular form invariably stands for the self-same object,” but rather as images that “suggest significance to the beholder as the written word ‘horse’ presents the form of a horse to the eyes.” Insofar as they were universally comprehensible, Kirchner believed his hieroglyphs could overcome the limitations of verbal language, erasing barriers of culture, nationality, race and religion.


Beyond their immediate circle, the Brücke artists favored subjects observed at cabarets, circuses and variety shows. The scantily clad, uninhibited performers evinced a disdain for bourgeois prudery that resonated with Brücke sensibilities. These entertainments instilled in Kirchner a lifelong love of dance, which evoked the same primal rituals he admired in non-Western tribal art. Crucially important for him was the opportunity to sketch the human figure in motion, building upon the spontaneity of the fifteen-minute studio studies. “My painting is a painting of movement,” Kirchner declared. “I find the observation of movement especially inspirational. From this comes a heightened feeling for life, which is the origin of all artistic creation.” The artist distilled the multiple views offered by a moving body into singular forms. Noting that movement takes place in time as well as space, the scholar Gerd Presler remarks that Kirchner proceeded organically from the three- to the two-dimensional, and then on to the fourth dimension.


Just as he preferred moving models, Kirchner himself moved as he drew, changing position or walking through town with a sketchbook in hand. He drew every day and nearly everywhere he went, filling at least 180 sketchbooks, over 12,000 sheets. Most often he used pen and ink, which facilitated expressively inflected lines; or pencil, or both. Color might be added later. Emotional emphasis frequently overrode realistic proportions. The artist strove to capture what he repeatedly referred to as “the ecstasy of first sight”: the feelings evoked by an initial visual encounter. “Sometimes,” he explained, “the great secret that lies beneath all the happenings and things in our environment becomes fleetingly perceptible…. We can never express it concretely, but only give it symbolic form.” Kirchner wanted to “make visible the invisible.”


Drawing is the key to Kirchner’s art, and his sketches are the key to his drawings. But the sketches should not be viewed as studies per se. Rather, the sketches birthed new forms, conceived in the throes of “ecstatic” experience, that “crystallized and hardened” in subsequent pictures. As Kirchner worked through the initial forms, he hoped to develop images that had even more strength and impact than the triggering experience. The artist’s search for “definitive forms” led him into printmaking, which he believed released “energies that remain unused in the much more lightweight processes of drawing or painting.” Worked on over a period of time, the plate, stone or block allowed a consolidation of “individual stages…into a single result… achieving the ultimate in expression.”


Kirchner was acutely sensitive to the characteristics specific to each printmaking medium: the texture of the wooden block; the spongy surface of the lithographic stone (which he enhanced with turpentine); the use of both single and multiple matrices to add color. His first love was woodcut, because of its kinship to tribal carving as well as its relationship to the illustrious German tradition of Dürer. Etching plates, which could be carried as easily as sketchbooks, facilitated a more spontaneous, “hieroglyphic” approach. Lithographic stones had the disadvantage of being costly and heavy. But they were reusable and thus could be shared among the Brücke artists. Kirchner eschewed transfer processes and always pulled his own prints, producing very small editions. “Only an artist who brings love and skill to the craft should make graphics,” he opined. “Only if the artist pulls the prints personally does the work deserve to be called original.”


In 1908, Pechstein moved to Berlin, a much larger city than Dresden with many more professional opportunities. Nevertheless, Die Brücke continued to function as a unit. Pechstein joined his comrades for their summer excursions to Moritzburg, and the Dresden-based contingent made regular visits to Berlin. In 1910, after Die Brücke’s submissions were rejected by the Berlin Secession, Pechstein brought the group into the Neue Secession, of which he was president. The following year, Kirchner, Heckel and Schmitt-Rottluff decided to join Pechstein and Mueller in Berlin. Kirchner rented a studio in the same building as Pechstein, where the two planned to open an art school.


The move to Berlin in 1911 did give Die Brücke more exhibition possibilities, but the competitive environment fostered new tensions. Kirchner’s and Pechstein’s art school failed within a matter of months. Already in 1907, Bleyl and Nolde had resigned from the organization. In 1912 Pechstein was forced out because he had violated Brücke policy by exhibiting without the others. The final blow came in 1913, when Kirchner was accused by the remaining members of writing a self-serving history of the group. Die Brücke officially disbanded in May of that year.


The dissolution of Die Brücke sent Kirchner into an emotional tailspin. Gone were his dreams of creative camaraderie, his hope of seamlessly melding art and life. Furthermore, without the Brücke brand, Kirchner found himself eclipsed on the Berlin art scene. The influential dealer Herwarth Walden passed him over in favor of the Italian Futurists and the more abstract variant of Expressionism practiced by Der Blaue Reiter. The frenetic pace of Berlin, streets teeming with people and cars at all hours, further exacerbated the artist’s feelings of alienation. The primitivist fantasies of Dresden and Mortizberg dimmed before the inexorable forces of modern civilization. Kirchner later called this period the “loneliest” of his life.


Nonetheless, Kirchner executed some of his most iconic work in Berlin, transitioning from the communal Brücke style to a more personal mode of expression. In Dresden, the Brücke artists had admired the work of Van Gogh and Matisse (whom they unsuccessfully solicited for membership), but in Berlin Kirchner was exposed to a far broader range of contemporary art, including Cubism, Futurism and the attenuated, androgynous figures of the German sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck. Kirchner, who vehemently denied any suggestion of outside influence, attributed his change of style to a change of models: the “soft, Saxon physique” of his Dresden girlfriend, Doris (“Dodo”) Grosse, was replaced by the “architectonically constructed, severely formed bodies” of a new girlfriend, Erna Schilling, and her sister Gerda. Kirchner’s lines became more jagged, and instead of focusing on single subjects, he began to sketch the interactions among multiple figures, formulating what Presler terms “Gesamt-Hieroglyphen” (comprehensive hieroglyphs).


The foregoing emotional and stylistic upheavals reached their apogee in Kirchner’s Berlin street scenes, the subject between 1913 and ‘15 of some eleven paintings and countless prints and drawings. More than mere depictions of a modern metropolis, these works capture the spirit of modernity itself. They are intensely and intentionally ambiguous, juxtaposing evocations of glamour and excitement with intimations of danger and disease. Once it becomes clear that the haughty, elegant women who dominate the streetscapes are in fact prostitutes, the commodification of desire emerges as a significant subtext. Yet unlike Dix and Grosz, who were obsessed with prostitution as an emblem of Weimar-era degradation, Kirchner avoids moralizing. He capitulates to the power of the city.


Despite the support of Erna Schilling, who would remain his lifelong companion, Kirchner’s sense of crisis deepened during the Berlin years. His inchoate terror of modern civilization assumed specific focus with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He began drinking heavily—Erna said, to avoid becoming “bourgeois”; others later suggested, to avoid military service. Fearing conscription, Kirchner voluntarily enlisted in the summer of 1915. Upon reporting for duty, he almost immediately suffered a breakdown, and by November he had been declared unfit to serve. In December, he was admitted to the Kohnstamm Sanatorium at Königstein im Taunus for the treatment of alcoholism and addiction to the sleeping medication Veronal. Two further stays at the sanatorium followed in 1916. His physical and mental fragility notwithstanding, however, Kirchner produced a number of powerful self-portraits and portraits during this period.


Worried that he might still be recalled to active duty, Kirchner in early 1917 left Germany for neutral Switzerland, where he entered a sanatorium run by a friend’s father-in-law. That summer, accompanied by a nurse, he rented a cabin on the Stafelalp, south of Davos. Though unable to leave his bed, Kirchner took solace from the landscape outside his window. “It is very peaceful here,” he wrote. “The high mountains will help me.” Gradually the artist’s health improved, and when the war ended, he decided to remain in Switzerland. The Stafelalp would become his regular summer retreat. For the colder months, he found a spacious farmhouse at the base of the mountain, near Frauenkirch. Erna Schilling continued to take care of her lover’s affairs in Germany, traveling periodically back and forth to Frauenkirch. In 1921, she joined the artist permanently in Switzerland, and the following year his Berlin studio was dismantled.


In the Swiss Alps, Kirchner discovered a harmony between humankind and nature that echoed his earlier primitivist ideals. “The contours of the mountains flow together with the clusters of people,” he observed. “Their strong faces, partly covered by large black hats, have the same forms as the pine trees.” In this setting, the gesamt-hieroglyph acquired a deeper meaning, the formal symbiosis of subject and ground suggesting a transcendent spiritual unity. The alpine way of life appeared timeless, and the giant Tinzenhorn loomed over everything like a protective roof. Kirchner compared this mountain to the ancient pyramids: an enduring icon linking the past to the present and future. The Tinzenhorn, Presler notes, was eternity made visible; it was the ultimate hieroglyph.


Many observers have detected a decrease in the eroticism of Kirchner’s later work, seen already in the angular nudes and cool prostitutes of the Berlin period. To some extent, this can be attributed to the artist’s maturation and to his deepening relationship with Erna Schilling. “The youthful, purely sexual connection to women has turned into camaraderie,” Kirchner explained. In 1921, he met the dancer Nina Hard in Zurich and brought her back to Frauenkirch for the summer. She and Erna shared what must have been an awkward idyll, posing together naked in the mountain landscape. Kirchner’s love of the moving figure was rekindled by a 1926 visit to Dresden, where he sketched the dancers Gret Palucca and Mary Wigman. However, there were no comparable performers, avant-garde cabarets or variety shows in Davos. Kirchner drew the locals dancing at the Café Schneider, but their movements were rote, their bodies concealed by conventional clothing.


Kirchner was not totally isolated in Davos. He traveled to larger Swiss cities, and starting in 1925-26, back to Germany. His work was widely exhibited in both countries, and he was visited regularly by art-world luminaries. Prolific publications furthered his reputation, and in 1931 he was made a member of the Prussian Academy in Berlin. Though Kirchner refused to have anything to do with the former members of Die Brücke, he maintained an interest in contemporary artists, especially Pablo Picasso. Under the latter’s influence, and also that of a local Swiss weaver, Lise Gujer (who made tapestries based on his designs), Kirchner’s style became flatter and more abstract. Still, he never abandoned his commitment to recognizable subject matter. “All art needs the visible world and will always need it,” he declared, “because, being accessible to all, it is the key to all other worlds.”


The advent of Hitler in 1933 brought an end to Kirchner’s professional efflorescence. The Prussian Academy immediately asked for his resignation, but did not forcibly expel him until 1937. That same year, 639 of the artist’s works were removed from German museums and either sold abroad or destroyed. The Nazis reawakened all Kirchner’s old fears: the critical rejection of his art; the barbarism of modern civilization; the prospect of an annihilating war. After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, he no longer felt safe in nearby Davos. He began destroying his work. In May he proposed marriage to Erna Schilling, then hastily withdrew the offer. On June 15, following an unsuccessful attempt to enlist Erna in a mutual suicide pact, Kirchner shot himself twice in the heart. He died almost instantly.



Erna Kirchner, who obtained the legal right to use the artist’s surname, became the keeper of his legacy. In 1943, when she was renovating their home near Frauenkirch, she gave a number of her late partner’s sketchbooks and sketches to Lise Gujer. After Erna’s death in 1945, Kirchner’s remaining sketches were acquired by Gujer, and many were subsequently sold. The thirty sketches that form the core of the present exhibition were purchased in 1959 from a Cologne gallery on behalf of Robert Lehman by his representative, Charles Lock. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Prof. Dr. Gerd Presler for his gracious assistance in dating and cataloguing these drawings. Warmest thanks also to Prof. Dr. Günther Gercken for his help cataloguing the Kirchner prints, to the family of Robert Lehman, and to an additional anonymous lender. The Galerie St. Etienne’s Associate Director, Elizabeth Marcus, provided further invaluable research.