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


Art & Gender in Weimar Germany

September 23, 1998 - November 11, 1998


Grosz, George

Lohse-Wächtler, Elfriede


Weimar Germany, epitomized by the popular musical Cabaret, has long captivated American audiences with its heady combination of hedonism and decadence. In the present exhibition, the Galerie St. Etienne returns to this seminal period in history, a subject to which we have already devoted a number of shows. By combining the work of George Grosz (1893-1959), one of the best-known artists of the time, with that of Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler (1899-1940), whose rediscovery has recently unleashed a flurry of highly acclaimed exhibitions and publications in Germany, we are also highlighting another of our favorite themes: the female role in the genesis of German modernism. Grosz and Lohse-Wächtler were rebels at a time when rebellion was both fashionable and far more dangerous than its advocates initially realized. The social upheavals which radicals and libertines welcomed following Germany’s 1919 revolution led, finally, to the ascension of Adolf Hitler, the murder of Lohse-Wächtler and, indirectly, to the decline and eventual demise of Grosz. Yet though Grosz and Lohse-Wächtler were products of the same time and place, their manifestations of rebellion were at heart profoundly different, conditioned as each artist was by the nature and limitations of his or her respective gender.


Sex, certainly, is a prominent focus of Weimar culture, and the politics of gender in Germany during the 1920s are exceedingly complex. Possibly no period in history ever witnessed such rapid and visible changes in women’s roles. Despite the fact that these changes were the outcome of gradual social, economic and political developments dating back to the nineteenth century, the contrast between the immediate post-World-War-I years and all that preceded them was glaring. The transformation was most obvious in women’s physical appearance: in looser fitting, shorter, more casual dresses, in the abandonment of the constricting corset, and in chic, gender-defying bob haircuts. Accompanying this was a more forthright entry into the public sphere. Women not only acquired the right to vote and hold office under the Weimar constitution, they joined the workforce in unprecedented number, albeit largely as low paid sales clerks and secretaries. And yet to some extent the promise of the new regime was illusory: as Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler would learn, often these freedoms allowed women just enough rope to hang themselves.


Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler grew up in a comfortable middle-class community on the outskirts of Dresden, and like many middle-class girls at the turn of the century, she was encouraged in a number of cultural pursuits, such as playing the violin. But when, as a teenager, she expressed a serious desire to become an artist, her father put his foot down, and the first of many furious arguments ensued. Gustav Adolf Wächtler, a salesman, thought his daughter should pursue a more practical education, and perhaps as a compromise, she enrolled in the Dresden School of Applied Art in 1915, initially studying fashion design but soon switching to the department of applied graphics. Her experiences at school bolstered Wächtler’s artistic resolve, and withall increased her desire to break free of the parental yoke: in 1916, at the tender age of seventeen, she took the then highly unusual step of getting her own apartment. This, plus the short bob haircut she got in 1918, increased her father’s ire to hellish proportions, so much so that at one point she could only visit the family home when he was not present.


Meanwhile, Wächtler was slowly trying to make her way as a professional artist. Using her training at the School of Applied Arts to good advantage, she produced and sold porcelain pendants, batik bedspreads and lithographed greeting cards. In the belief that she might achieve more notice with a male first name, she adopted the pseudonym “Nikolaus.” Wächtler began to make important artistic connections: she met Konrad Felixmuller, Otto Dix and Otto Griebel, who took her to meetings of the radical Spartacus group. Through Griebel, she also met Kurt Lohse, a some-time art student with equally strong interests in singing and acting. Lohse more or less moved in with Wächtler, and their apartment became a gathering place for Dresden’s avant-garde, including prominent members of the Dada movement such as Johannes Baader.


From the start, Wächtler’s relationship with Kurt Lohse had been stormy, but they nonetheless wed in 1921. Like so many women of her generation, Lohse-Wächtler (as she was hereafter called) probably hoped that marriage would provide a combination of security and freedom from parental constraints; and like so many who proceeded accordingly, she was to be bitterly disappointed. Despite fairly steady acting and singing engagements, Kurt never seemed to be able to properly support the couple, and Elfriede’s attempts to augment their income by painting and sculpting portraits did not help much. Increasingly, they lived apart--at first on account of Lohse’s theatrical assignments in other cities, and later by choice. Between 1927 and 1930, while still married to Elfriede, Kurt had three children with another woman. Elfriede and Kurt shared a youthful and probably genuine artistic bond, but Lohse now sought the warmth of what he characterized as a “total woman.” In this, he was completely in sync with the prevailing male view of gender roles, which held that woman’s true creative nature lay in her ability to inspire men and nurture children, and that any other form of female creativity was the product of implicitly tainting masculine personality elements. As the marriage deteriorated (and with it Elfriede’s mental state), the couple’s artist friends rallied to his side; Kurt showed how he felt about his wife’s talent when he gave his students her canvases to paint on.


In early 1929, tormented by her husband’s infidelity, by her own inability to bear him a child, and by pressing financial woes, Lohse-Wächtler suffered a severe nervous breakdown. She emerged from two months in a psychiatric hospital, however, to enter her most productive and successful artistic phase. Lohse-Wächtler and her husband had been living (mostly apart) in Hamburg since 1925, and the artist had begun to make promising contacts with local arts organizations, galleries and museums before her hospitalization. In May 1929 she mounted her first major exhibition: a display of portraits of fellow psychiatric patients that garnered significant critical praise. Lack of funds forced Lohse-Wächtler to work mainly with watercolor and pastel, and in the next years she executed a number of fully-realized large-scale drawings of subjects ranging from portraits and landscapes to allegorical fantasy scenes and forthright depictions of Hamburg’s notorious red-light district. More exhibitions and acclaim followed, but as Germany’s economic situation worsened in the wake of the American stock market crash, Lohse-Wächtler found it ever more difficult to keep her head above water.


By the early 1930s Lohse-Wächtler was in desperate straits. No definite address is known for her, and it is thought that she may have slept in railroad stations and even on the street. Hamburg’s red-light district was not just an artistic motif, it was home. Lohse-Wächtler gravitated to German society’s lowest rungs and for a time took up with a Gypsy lover. All her former friends had at this point distanced themselves from her. Destitute, abandoned and virtually homeless, in May 1931 Lohse-Wächtler conceded defeat and moved back with her parents in Dresden. It may be assumed that relations with her father had not improved; by October of 1931 he was angling to get his daughter committed to the mental hospital in nearby Arnsdorf, and in June of the following year, he succeeded. Gustav Wächtler could not, of course, have foreseen what happened next, for with the advent of Hitler’s government in 1933, mental patients became non-persons. In accordance with the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Defective Offspring,” Lohse-Wächtler was forcibly sterilized in 1935, about seven months after Lohse finally divorced her. Considered by the Nazis as someone with a “life not worth living,” she was gassed in 1940. Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler’s failure to please the two most important men in her life, her father and her husband, had literally killed her. The third key man in her life, her brother Hubert, was too young to have saved Elfriede, but he made up for it by faithfully preserving and promoting her artistic legacy.


If Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler’s rebellion -- which essentially consisted of her desire to be an independent artist-- seems mild in comparison with the penalty exacted, George Grosz was a rebel of a far more belligerent sort. And while his rebellion took a public form that incited commensurate sanctions, he also had recourse to a much more extensive male support network. Expelled from secondary school for hitting a student teacher, he nevertheless was helped by the drawing master to apply to the Dresden Academy of Art, which he attended (together with Dix) from 1909 to 1911. Physical and mental illness--real or feigned--kept him out of action in World War I, though he was twice inducted. By the time the war ended, he had perfected a seething hostility toward all forms of organized authority and especially to its specific manifestations in the German overclass. Having settled in Berlin, he allied himself there with others of kindred spirit: the publisher Wieland Herzfelde, the brilliant photo-montagist John Heartfield (Herzfelde’s brother), and various local proponents of the Dada movement. Following the 1919 revolution, Communists, including Grosz and the Herzfelde brothers, began jockeying for control of the new Weimar-based government, and Grosz’s prior animosities acquired a more specific political focus. Disdaining the preciousness of oil painting and the bourgeois art establishment, he turned to the impersonal technique of lithography as a means of reaching the broader proletarian mass. Three of his print portfolios, published by Herzfelde’s Malik Verlag, landed Grosz in court: once (in 1920) for defaming the military, once (in 1923) for pornography, and once (in 1928) for blasphemy.


Grosz’s problems with the German authorities do not, however, seem to have hurt him professionally, nor did his disdain for the art establishment prevent him from signing a contract in 1923 with one of Berlin’s foremost dealers, Alfred Flechtheim. Personal and political circumstances were conspiring to mellow the artist. He returned from a 1922 visit to Russia disillusioned with the Communist experiment. In 1924 currency reform ushered in a period of relative stability and prosperity in Germany. And in 1926 Grosz’s wife Eva (a former art student who, like so many women, subordinated her career to marriage) gave birth to their first son, instilling in her husband a desire for greater security. Grosz turned to painting portraits and landscapes with the hope of pleasing Flechtheim (to no avail, as it turned out) and financing his less commercial political art. He also adopted a more fully-worked, masterly style, in keeping with the neo-realist trend sweeping Germany in the mid 1920’s. As the Weimar-based government entered its final turbulent years, Grosz began to sound almost like a conservative: bemoaning the loss of authentic German values and the rampant moral decay of contemporary society. Arguably, such scathing critiques of the existing order, including especially those of Grosz’s now estranged Communist comrades, were in part responsible for undermining the Weimar regime and bringing on Hitler.


But Grosz was no Nazi, and he sensed early on the full implications of Hitler’s program. Following a trial stint at New York’s Art Students’ League in 1932, he decided to emigrate to America. He and Eva arrived in January 1933, just a few weeks before Hitler was named chancellor. Grosz had always admired America from afar, but his had been a fictional America of wild-west heroes and gangster dandies. The reality did not so much disappoint as confuse. He could not sink his teeth into American society with the same malicious zeal as he had done with Germany, and he ended up painting and drawing many relatively naturalistic vignettes. His loss of focus and inner despair were conveyed in apocalyptic allegories and, increasingly, in drink. After World War II, Germany was eager to make up for its sins by lionizing Grosz, and despite several unsatisfying postwar visits, he finally gave in to his wife’s urging and agreed to return for good. The couple arrived in June 1959; several weeks later, George Grosz collapsed after a drunken binge and died.


George Grosz’s greater engagement in the public and political arena naturally gave him a higher profile than Elfriede Lohse-Wächtler, yet one may question whether he was at heart a true revolutionary. Certainly his Berlin drawings and watercolors, while animated by a delicious misanthropy, are not very convincing as propaganda. Not only does Grosz’s work lack the heroic proletarian protagonists that the Communists wanted to see, but his depictions of the underclass are decidedly unappealing. Some have even accused Grosz of harboring a secret affinity for the grotesque, pudgy capitalists and generals, who at any rate are by far his most interesting characters. Although Grosz had a genius for caricature and telling detail, he never developed the broader humanism that might have saved him and his work after his youthful anger began to fade.


It is precisely in her humanism that Lohse-Wächtler excels. Unlike Grosz, she does not attempt to proselytize, but simply to portray things as she sees them, accurately and compassionately. Hers is, on the face of it, a gentler art. Yet with her female perspective, she upends centuries of social and art historical tradition, particularly when she depicts subjects that were previously the principal preserve of male artists. Lohse-Wächtler’s female nudes are not repositories for male fantasies, either of anger or desire. And her prostitutes are presented with dignity, as practitioners of a difficult but perfectly honorable profession. Lohse-Wächtler’s nude self-portraits, particularly those in which she is joined by male figures, are similarity unconventional. It is not surprising, given her history, that sometimes she seems haunted by the men in her life. Perhaps most unusual are her self-portraits with the mysterious Gypsy lover, a demonic figure who, in a reversal of the standard art-historical trope, is presented as a kind of homme fatale.


It has been suggested that the pervasive ugliness of the women in the work of Grosz and other of his male colleagues was a subliminal expression of the animosity and fear aroused by women’s greater independence under the Weimar regime. One may broaden this observation to suggest that Grosz was in some respects a reactionary social critic, railing against the excesses of modern life without, finally, any clue as to a viable alternative. Lohse-Wächtler, on the other hand, was simply caught up in the torrent of recent changes. And if her work is not exactly a celebration of the new order, she evinces an acceptance of and attempt to understand the contemporary situation that is comparatively liberated and liberating. Rebellion can take many forms, and surely both Grosz and Lohse-Wächtler paid bitterly for their failure to accomodate a reality that was far harsher than it initially appeared. As we come to have a deeper appreciation for the often more private forms of female rebellion, we can see that it is just as profound and shattering as the better known male variant.