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


The Meanings of Modernity in Germany, 1905-1933

March 31, 2009 - June 26, 2009


Beckmann, Max

Bernhard, Lucian

Dix, Otto

Feininger, Lyonel

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Hubbuch, Karl

Klee, Paul

Mueller, Otto

Nolde, Emil

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Schlichter, Rudolf

Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl

Scholz, Georg

Tschinkel, Augustin


In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Germany, like much of Europe and the United States, underwent an extensive process of industrialization. Everywhere, industrialization produced enormous social and economic changes: a shift from a predominantly rural to an urban-oriented society, resulting in a displacement of peasants and farmers by factory workers, handicraft by mechanization; the advent of mass production, mass communications and mass culture; the rise of a new capitalist class that threatened traditional power hierarchies. Germany industrialized somewhat later and more rapidly than other countries, and the German people arguably were therefore more shaken by the concomitant social upheaval. The stresses of industrialization were further exacerbated in Germany by the fact that the nation, formerly an agglomeration of independent kingdoms, duchies and city-states, was only first unified in 1871. Reactions to modernity were therefore inexorably infused with a yearning for national identity.


This peculiar combination of circumstances in Germany created a distinctive, widespread ambivalence toward modernity. To the extent that the concept of nationhood depended on the identification of intrinsically German qualities that predated unification, Germans were inclined to look backward, rather than forward, for role models. To the extent that modern innovations came from abroad, they were denounced as un-deutsch (un-German). Nevertheless, by the early twentieth century Germany was one of the world's leading industrial powers. Capitalism was permeating every aspect of the economy, undermining the old system of aristocratic patronage, forcing fine artists to confront the market in unfamiliar ways, and generating previously unknown outlets for more commercially-minded artists in areas like graphic design, typography and advertising. Modernity was inescapable, but it set a paradoxical agenda: invent new yet entirely German forms of visual expression; create a new world while reconstituting the values of an idealized past.


German Expressionism was never a coherent style in the sense that Impressionism and Cubism were. In a myriad manifesti and polemics, artists put forth earnest theoretical programs, yet they for the most part left the visual specifics open to individual interpretation. Style followed intent, and artists tended to approach modernism as an intellectual problem. In so doing, they naturally assimilated various philosophical ideas that were then circulating in Germany at large. The belief in artists as spiritual emissaries, a grounding principle of the Romantic movement in the early nineteenth century, had been expanded by Friedrich Nietzsche into the concept of the Übermensch: an artistic "superman" who would liberate humankind from the materialistic strictures of bourgeois society. Revolutionary (not to say nihilistic) fervor, willful defiance of convention and a profound commitment to the spiritual in art were among the disparate facets of Expressionism that derived from Nietzsche’s writings. But perhaps the most important aspect of the Romantic/Nietzschean legacy was the belief that artistic leadership can transform society; that art is capable of saving the world.


In the concept of artistic salvation, however, lay an implicit contempt for things-as-they-are. Not only was it possible for a modern artist to reject modern society, in Germany this was almost a prerequisite for membership in the avant-garde. Validating a distinction first articulated by the influential sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in 1887, many Germans associated Gesellschaft (society) with the dehumanizing influence of the contemporary metropolis, and Gemeinschaft (community) with the intimate bonds of kinship fostered by rural folkways. The two principal Expressionist groups, the Brücke (1905-1913) and the Blauer Reiter (1911-1914), incorporated the idea of Gemeinschaft in communal working arrangements and regular jaunts to countryside. The natural environment was an important touchstone for the German avant-garde, as it was for many ordinary citizens, who joined preservation societies and hiking groups in order to connect with the rural Heimat (homeland). Outdoor activities were central to the German youth movement, and the valorization of youth, which was identified with modernity and the new nation, was another element that the Expressionists culled from the Zeitgeist. "With a belief in continuing evolution, . . . we call together all youth," declared the Brücke artists in their Programme. "We intend to obtain freedom of movement and of life for ourselves in opposition to older, well-established powers."


The Brücke group was founded by four architecture students, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, in Dresden in 1905. Aside from the fact that there are many bridges in Dresden, the name Brücke (bridge) suggests several potent interpretations. Most often cited is a quote from 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. During the eight years of its existence, the Brücke group was extremely energetic, promoting itself by organizing no fewer than 70 exhibitions and publishing an annual print portfolio, paid for by "passive" members who contributed twelve Marks. The founding artists also solicited "active" members from Germany and abroad, the best known of whom are Emil Nolde and Max Pechstein (who both joined in 1906) and Otto Mueller (who joined in 1910). Nolde, a loner more than ten years older than most of the other members, resigned in 1907, as did Bleyl, who married that year.


The Brücke 's Künstlergemeinschaft (artists' community) was an attempt, in Kirchner's words, "to bring art and life into harmony with each other." The artists' work was from the outset ideologically inflected and endowed with double or triple metaphorical meanings. A landscape could evoke, simultaneously or separately, an Edenic state of nature, a healthful outdoor life or an antidote to urban decadence. The "primitivism" favored by both the Brücke and the Blauer Reiter likewise offered an escape from the taint of civilization, as well as an "authentic," non-Western formal vocabulary. Nudity connoted primeval innocence, health, youth and shameless pleasure. The revival of woodcut, an art form central to the Brücke enterprise, was a deliberate attempt to reference Germany's medieval past, thereby giving modernism a Germanic foundation. Although it is clear that the Brücke artists were influenced by Cezanne and the French Fauves, the Germans took pains to distance themselves from such foreign sources, preferring instead to cite role models like Dürer and Cranach. While "Expressionism" was a label used mostly by critics and dealers, and accepted uneasily or not at all by many artists, it was nonetheless the first distinctly German art movement.


In 1908, Pechstein moved to Berlin, but he rejoined his Brücke comrades for their summer excursions to the Moritzburg lake district outside Dresden and hosted them when they visited the German capital. There was no question that Berlin was quickly becoming the center of the nation's art market, and in 1911 Heckel, Kirchner and Schmidt-Rottluff moved there too. However, in this more competitive commercial environment, discord soon developed among the artists. In 1912, Pechstein left the Brücke after agreeing to exhibit at the Berlin Secession, which two years earlier had refused to show the rest of the group. In 1913, Kirchner resigned after penning a history of the Brücke that the others found self-serving. Shortly thereafter, the organization officially disbanded. It is ironic and perhaps fitting that the Brücke, with its fervent desire to take contemporary society back to its primordial roots, should have been done in by the modern metropolis.


Creators active in the applied arts had, of necessity, a more practical and therefore a more positive attitude toward industrialization than did their colleagues in the fine arts. Recognizing that industrialization had severed the link between design and production that existed in traditional workshops and had simultaneously destroyed the guild system that previously educated artisans, Germans established Kunstgwerbemuseen (arts and crafts museums) and loosely affiliated Kunstgwerbeschülen (arts and crafts schools) to showcase exemplary products and train young designers. Design collectives such as the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk (United Workshops for Art in Handicraft), founded in Munich in 1897, connected artists and craftsmen with sympathetic consumers. Under the patronage of the Grand Duke of Hesse, a design-oriented artists' colony, replete with its own state-of-the art housing, was established in 1899 at Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt. Karl Ernst Osthaus, the son of a wealthy banker, likewise used his hometown of Hagen as a site for architectural experimentation and sent his design collection traveling cross-country to educate businessmen in matters of taste. Perhaps the key organization uniting designers and industry, however, was the Deutsche Werkbund (German Work Federation), founded in 1907 with official government support.


While some of the aforementioned ventures incorporated aspects of the utopian Künstlergemeinschaft, they all shared a commercial core, united in the belief that good design was central to the competitive success of German industry. Like their counterparts in the fine arts, designers felt charged with the task of creating forms that were both modern and distinctly German. Even typefaces had nationalistic implications: Fraktur, thought to emulate the flow of the ancient quill, was considered the ur-German letterform, whereas the more geometrical Roman fonts used throughout the rest of Europe were branded un-deutsch. Bowing to the necessity of international legibility, Lucian Bernhard invented a typeface, Antiqua, that combined aspects of both styles. The Deutsche Werkbund, as the first national organization of its kind, was especially conscious of issues pertaining to German identity. Hermann Muthesius, the Werkbund’s chairman from 1910 to 1916, believed that shoddy goods were contributing to the degeneration of German society, and he proposed uniform design standards to safeguard quality and to promote German brand recognition abroad.


The concept of branding--the creation of a comprehensive identity for a product or company--resonated deeply for many Germans. Branding became the corporate face of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork), an idea first mooted by the composer Richard Wagner in the nineteenth century. For Wagner, opera--melding music, acting, literature and the visual arts--was the quintessential Gesamtkunstwerk. For designers, a Gesamtkunstwerk could be any coordinated environment or object: as large as a city, as small as a beautifully crafted book. The community at Mathildenhöhe, which the contemporary art historian Julius Meier-Graefe likened to "a fairy-tale in the ideal kingdom," was such a Gesamtkunstwerk, a place where creators in all branches of the arts were invited to live and work together in harmony. It is surprising how easily this idealistic conception, with its implicit promise of enlightenment through art, could be turned to commercial ends. Peter Behrens, one of the principal architects at Mathildenhöhe, later created a visual identity for the electrical company A.E.G. that included factories, showrooms, product design, typography and advertising.


Insofar as graphic design was a denominator common to diverse branches of the applied arts, it functioned as the glue that held the Gesamtkunstwerk together. Graphics, the foundation of advertising, also constituted the public face of German design. To compete with Paris, the leader in modern poster production, a Verein der Plakatfreunde (Society of Friends of the Poster) was established in Berlin in 1905, followed by an ancillary magazine, Das Plakat, in 1910. Germany, the birthplace of lithography, had a particularly well developed printing industry, and printers, rather than ad agencies, usually intermediated between clients and artists. Although they were sometimes collected as art objects, posters served a fundamentally commercial purpose. They had to conform to the format suggested by specially constructed advertising pillars and to compete visually with other posters as well as with the general bustle of urban life. Lucian Bernhard, artistic advisor to both the Verein der Plakatfreunde and the prestigious art printers Hollerbaum und Schmidt, pioneered the distinctive Sachplakat (object poster): a bold, bright sheet featuring a single image. Using up to sixteen separate lithographic stones to achieve complex, intensely saturated colors, the Sachplakat transformed products into desirable commodities that spoke for themselves.


Modernity’s inexorable ascendancy continued apace in the difficult years following World War I. It was clear that economic survival demanded success in the international marketplace, and German efforts could not be compromised by archaic forms of nationalism, escapism or ambivalence toward industrialization. Given the privations induced by the war, people of all political persuasions looked to technology to provide them with a better life. The idea of art-for-art's-sake and the introspective musings of the Expressionists, too, were passé. In place of impractical idealism, Germans lauded Sachlichkeit: a term usually translated as "objectivity" that also, however, connotes rationality and realism. Putting their faith in the ostensibly socialist government of the fledgling Weimar Republic, most artists, fine and applied, saw social engagement as an urgent priority. The masses, rather than the corrupt bourgeoisie, were the target audience; the collective, rather than the individual, was the guiding force.


Despite the German art scene's palpable shift in emphasis, the belief that art could change the world survived, if anything stronger than before. In the heady days following the overthrow of Germany's imperial regime in 1918, three major artists' coalitions--the Novembergruppe (November Group) and Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Worker’s Council for Art) in Berlin, and the Dresdener Sezession--Gruppe 19 in Dresden--were formed to shape the cultural policy of the new republic. Eschewing the preciousness of oil painting, artists focused on producing prints, which could be distributed to a wider, less affluent audience. Artistic subject matter, too, reflected the realities of the common citizen, the corruption of the war and the suffering it had produced at home. United in the pursuit of social betterment and justice, artists of the Weimar period, like their prewar predecessors, refrained from endorsing any one style. Vestiges of Expressionism lingered alongside caricature, classical realism and photo-montage.


Pretensions to Sachlichkeit notwithstanding, German artists remained idealists at heart. It was perhaps inevitable that more forthright political involvement would eventually transform this idealism into bitterness. The Weimar regime was quick to betray its socialist aspirations, frequently siding with rightwing militarists and leaving capitalist war profiteers safely ensconced in positions of privilege. George Grosz, a potent critic of what he facetiously dubbed "the pillars of society," was subjected to two censorship trials. When it came to artists with political inclinations, the new regime proved no more tolerant of expressive freedom than the old one. The art of the Weimar period was ultimately a record of dashed hopes. The city figured in the work of Grosz, Max Beckmann and Otto Dix more prominently, but no more positively, than it had in prewar art. The metropolis was a nexus of moral and spiritual debasement; the ubiquitous prostitute emblematic of a culture in which everything, even human beings, had its price. So grim, indeed, was the view of society presented by Weimar-era artists that even the Communist party--with which many of these artists sympathized--distanced itself from the work. The proletariat was not fooled by artists’ expressions of socialist solidarity, which hardly masked their innate elitism.


In German artists' self-imposed mandate to save the world lay the assumption that they were qualified to do so, and the conviction that ordinary folk should bow to their superior taste and wisdom. Among the various organizations formed during the Weimar period to lead the German public to artistic enlightenment, the most influential and longest-lived was probably the Bauhaus. Established in Weimar in 1919 under the leadership of the architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus amalgamated a previously existing School of Fine Arts and Kunstgewerbeschule. Combining the fine and the applied arts in its curriculum, the Bauhaus was yet another incarnation of the Gesamtkunstwerk, with architecture as the overriding framework. Gropius exhorted his students to "conceive and create the new building of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will rise one day toward heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystal symbol of a new faith." Shades of the old Künstlergemeinschaft were evoked by the Bauhaus's workshop structure, wherein "masters" and "apprentices" collaborated toward a common goal. Continuing the prewar quest to reunite design with production, each workshop at first had two "masters": an artist and a craftsman.


The Gesamtkunstwerk and the kindred leveling of art and craft were ideals that much of the prewar avant-garde had readily accepted. However, craft was one thing, industry another. The artists who taught at the Bauhaus included several former members of the Blauer Reiter group, most notably its leader, Wassily Kandinsky, as well as Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee. Feininger in particular looked on in dismay as the Bauhaus, abandoning its early idealism, tilted more and more in the direction of industry. "A genuine technologist will quite correctly refuse to enter into artistic questions," he wrote, "and . . . the greatest technical perfection can never replace the divine spark of art." Nevertheless, functional design was the Bauhaus's raison d'etre, and there were critics who felt the school did not go far enough in accommodating modern technological advances. To this end, Gropius in 1923 put the Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy in charge of the foundation curriculum. The principles most closely associated with the Bauhaus were articulated in a 1925 statement that endorsed the "affirmation of the living environment of machines and vehicles," the use of "primary forms and colors readily accessible to everyone," the "economical use of space, material, time and money" and "the creation of standard types for all practical commodities." By crafting a design ethic geared to mass production, the Bauhaus created a unique language of form for the modern age.


Yet the Bauhaus could not indefinitely contain the contradictions that had from the outset characterized German attitudes toward modernity. The school’s history reflects deep-seated conflicts between idealism and practicality, "pure" art and commercialism, individual creativity and uniform standards. Ironically, although many members of the Bauhaus staff were socialists, designing for industry inevitably put them in league with capitalist interests. As had happened earlier in the twentieth century, German art became ideologically inflected, this time to more sinister ends. The right-wing National People’s Party, determined to oust the Bauhaus from Weimar, accused the school of damaging German culture by privileging design over art and of "favoring elements alien to the race [i.e., Jews] over German nationals." Weimar eventually stopped funding the Bauhaus, and in 1925 it moved to Dessau, a larger, more industrially advanced city that initially seemed preferable. The Nazis, who acquired a majority in the Dessau parliament in 1931, chased the Bauhaus to Berlin, where it survived as a private institution until 1933, when Hitler took over the national government and closed the school permanently. The charges leveled against the Bauhaus, and modern art in general, echoed an old refrain: the work was un-deutsch; it was degenerate; it was toxic to German society. Like the German avant-garde, the Nazis believed in the transformative power of art, and they were therefore determined to control it.


We would like to convey our warmest thanks to Merrill C. Berman, whose generous cooperation made this exhibition possible. Checklist entries include catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, image dimensions are given for the prints and full dimensions for all other works, including the posters.