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


Father & Son, Inside & Out

April 24, 2014 - July 3, 2014


Basicevic (Mangelos), Dimitrije

Basicevic, Ilija Bosilj


Although Modernism continues to cast a long shadow over the twenty-first century, its defining dichotomies—realism versus abstraction, East versus West, insider versus outsider—are becoming increasingly irrelevant. In his landmark exhibition, The Encyclopedic Palace, at the 2013 Venice Biennale, the curator Massimiliano Gioni suggested a number of alternative approaches to viewing and analyzing artistic production. Works were grouped into typological categories such as maps, catalogues, albums and cabinets of curiosities, or organized according to common preoccupations such as myth, spiritualism and eroticism. Self-taught artists were given parity with trained artists, and the pictorial work of non-artists such as Carl Jung and Rudolf Steiner was also included.


As part of the twenty-first-century process of art-historical revisionism, curators on both sides of the former “Iron Curtain” have been excavating the many layers of artistic creativity that were concealed beneath the monolithic covering of Communist cultural policy. Within this context, the relationship between the father-son artistic duo Ilija and Dimitrije Basicevic (known by the respective pseudonyms Ilija Bosilj and Mangelos) merits renewed scrutiny. Native to the remote Serbian village of Shid, the Basicevic family was persecuted first by the proto-Nazi Croatian Ustashi, and then by the Yugoslav Communists. In the wake of this persecution, Ilija and Mangelos each developed semi-secret artistic practices that endeavored to grapple with the overarching existential issues of their time. But whereas the father, a peasant with only four years of elementary schooling, was typecast as an “Outsider,” the son, who had a PhD in art history, has lately achieved widespread acclaim as one of the key forerunners of international Conceptualism. The time has come to remove the obfuscating labels and examine each of these artists on his own terms, separately and together.


Shid has been described as “a lost town at the end of the globe”: a rural enclave situated on the border between Serbia and Croatia, torn between the legacies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the West, and the Ottoman Turks to the East. Such historical circumstances may lead to a passive acceptance of forces beyond one’s control, or, on the contrary, encourage the rejection of all externally imposed authority. Ilija Basicevic inclined toward the latter attitude. He almost never voted, because he thought the local elections were pointless and rigged. Commandeered into the Austrian army during World War I, he devised various ingenious ways to escape, not so much to save his own skin, but because he was a confirmed, lifelong pacifist. As a farmer, too, Ilija was a nonconformist. He rejected age-old traditions of crop rotation in favor of modern agricultural methods and machinery, eventually becoming one of Shid’s more prosperous residents. Though his mother had been illiterate, Ilija was the only peasant in the area to send his children, Dimitrije and Vojin, to school. He augmented his own minimal education by studying his sons’ textbooks and hosting literary evenings, where neighbors read aloud to one another while plucking chickens or husking corn.


In 1941, Shid was absorbed into the fascist state of Croatia. The ruling Ustashi pursued a ruthless policy of “ethnic cleansing,” exterminating hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Romani. Prominent citizens such as the Basicevic clan were among the first targets. Ilija was interned in a church basement, where he waited while, one after another, his neighbors were executed by firing squad. For some reason he was allowed to return home unharmed; but he, along with his sons, had been sentenced to die at some future date. In October 1942, all three men fled to Vienna, where the sons entered university, Vojin to study medicine and Dimtrije to study art history. However Ilija, who had contracted tuberculosis, soon returned home to Shid, a medical death sentence superseding the one previously imposed by the Ustashi.


Ilija was as contemptuous of the doctor who sentenced him to death as he was of other authority figures. He used his convalescence to read, and eventually he recovered. Toward the end of World War II, Vojin and Dimitrije joined Marshal Tito’s Communist partisans to fight the Croatian fascists, but none of the Basicevic men was fully comfortable with postwar Yugoslav Communism. Ilija at first refused to donate his property to the local farmers’ cooperative, and when, under intense pressure, he finally did so in 1948, he refused to work on land that was no longer his. As a result, in 1951 he, his wife and both sons were expelled from the cooperative. Weakened by illness and now deprived of his livelihood, Ilija faced an impoverished future. Vojin at this point had moved to Novi Sad to practice medicine, and Dimitrije was completing his doctorate in Zagreb.


Although postwar Yugoslavia was initially part of the Soviet bloc, Tito broke with Stalin in 1948 and established an independent socialist state. In keeping with Tito’s desire to chart a “third way,” aligned neither with the East nor the West, socialist realism was jettisoned as the official artistic style and replaced by “moderate modernism,” a non-ideological melding of abstraction and figuration. Within limits, Yugoslav artists could exhibit abroad, and foreign art was shown in Yugoslavia. Nonetheless art was still very much under the control of the state, which doled out professorships, curatorial posts, financial support and access to exhibitions. As a young art historian and critic navigating Zagreb’s government-sponsored arts institutions in the 1950s, Dimitrije Basicevic soon learned that every aesthetic position had political ramifications.


Originally, at the turn of the twentieth century, European modernism had been characterized by an opposition to the status quo, identified variously with the Salon, the Academy, bourgeois society and industrial capitalism. However this contrarian impulse proved difficult to sustain. In the West, the avant-garde was constantly being absorbed into the capitalist mainstream, then revived, then reabsorbed. In the Communist East, where the avant-garde counter-discourse was denied any sort of official platform, it was pushed underground, into the private realm. Expressive freedom needed the protection of secrecy.


In 1959, Dimitrije Basicevic joined the Gorgona group: five artists, three art historians (including himself) and one architect, who for the next seven years met regularly behind closed doors to discuss art. The group took its name from a poem by Dimitrije about the Gorgons: mythical Greek monsters whose petrifying gaze could be avoided by taking refuge in the temple of Apollo, god of music and poetry. Gorgona’s members rejected the fabrication of conventional art objects in favor of anonymous collective works, actions and writings that included questionnaires, letters, descriptions of hypothetical artworks and epigrammatic texts. Gorgona’s most public presence was an “anti-magazine” of the same title, conceived not as a critical review but as a work of art in itself.


Few people knew at this time that the art historian Dimitrije Basicevic was also making art. To further distance his professional identity from his creative one, he adopted the artistic pseudonym Mangelos, after the hometown of a friend who had died during the war. It was around that time, in 1941, that the future artist began making images, drawing black marks in a notebook every time a comrade, relative or neighbor was killed, “as if he had been deleted.” The marks were analogous to graves, Mangelos later recalled, which gradually grew bigger, “so that they took up a quarter of a page, then half a page, and sometimes the whole page.” “I recorded the deaths in this way for a year,” the artist explained, “burying, in a way, my childhood and youth.” Eventually he began to write on the “graves,” transforming them into artworks that he referred to as “Paysages de la Guerre” or “Paysages de la Mort.” After experiencing the annihilating horrors of war, Mangelos felt a need to start from scratch, “not from something that had existed and been developed previously.” The “graves” thus spawned the concept of the “Tabula Rasa”—a series of works that emulated school slates. The “Tabulae Rasae” marked both an end and a beginning, for as the artist noted, “a blank slate could not remain a blank slate forever; it had to be written on.”


Mangelos habitually employed schoolroom references, like slates, globes, notebooks and alphabets, to symbolize the process of unlearning and relearning. Yet at the same time he felt that the symbolic nexus between form and content, art’s metaphorical significance, had been irretrievably lost. His goal was to create art that was not a metaphor; objects that were their own negation. The “No-Art” of Mangelos might, for example, consist of a blackened, over-painted art reproduction. Or he might treat words and letters in purely formal terms, disabling their communicative capacity. Theorizing that the content of art would henceforth derive from logical systems rather than metaphor, he created a series devoted to Pythagoras, who to him represented the quintessence of rational thought. Two further series, “Noun-Facts” and “Abfälle” (Garbage), juxtapose, respectively, objective signifiers (hand, chair, table and so on) with supposedly useless “soft” concepts (love, faith, friendship).


Mangelos felt that industrialization (which he referred to as “mechanical civilization”) had put an end to “all the social phenomena rooted in manual work,” including art. In the future, society would be organized around “functional thinking” rather than instinct or emotion. Still, if Mangelos believed the transition from art to “No-Art” was irrevocable, he did not exactly embrace the change with open arms. His artworks were descriptive rather than prescriptive; a form of art criticism expressed in pictorial terms. Mangelos did not really think that art could or should be rationalized. On the contrary, he believed that art derives from a primordial, primitive impulse that defies theoretical explication. If “mechanical civilization” was gradually eradicating that ancient impulse, it could still be found in the work of “naïve” painters like Henri Rousseau. Defying elitist hierarchies and resisting academic ossification, the “naives” embodied the contrarian spirit of the original avant-garde. Mangelos identified with them as “anti-artists,” immune to the dictates of officialdom.


Thus in his public, professional capacity, the critic Dimitrije Basicevic gravitated to the Yugoslav “naives”—a group of peasant artists working for the most part in and around the Croatian village of Hlebine. At the center of this group was a trained artist, Krsto Hegedusic, whose early paintings were Marxist critiques of peasant exploitation, and who in 1930 had founded an art school in Hlebine. After World War II, Hegedusic rose to prominence within the Communist art establishment and supervised Dimitrije’s work, first at the University of Zagreb and later at the Archives of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences. As Dimitrije advanced professionally, working at the Peasant Art Gallery and then, in 1957, cofounding the Primitive Art Gallery, he came into increasingly open conflict with Hegedusic. Dimitrije objected to the fact that Hegedusic was sucking the life out of “naïve” art by bringing it under the wing of the Communist Party and turning peasant painting into an official export commodity. Most galling of all, Hegedusic took credit for teaching Ivan Generalic, the greatest of the Hlebine artists, to paint, effectively robbing him of his creative identity. The conflict inspired Mangelos to produce his first globe: a blacked-out orb over which were inscribed words “Paysage of Al Capone”—a nickname for Hegedusic.


Amidst this brewing controversy, in 1957 Ilija Basicevic unaccountably began to paint. Heretofore he had taken a dim view of art, which he associated with “immoral” subjects like nudes, and with the vagrant rootlessness of traveling circus performers. He approved neither of Dimitrije’s public profession nor his private vocation, at times even painting over his son’s artwork. It has been suggested that Ilija may have been inspired to paint by talk of Generalic and the other Yugoslav peasant artists. Some have attributed Ilija’s artistic turnabout to the loss of his land and all other meaningful work. Indeed, Dimitrije observed, it was as though his father suddenly became an entirely different person. Painting became his life, pursued with the same obsessive energy he had once devoted to farming.


At first Dimitrije was no more welcoming of Iija’s new vocation than the father had been of his son’s career choices. Ilija’s paintings were crude in comparison to those of the Hlebine artists, whose reverse-glass technique gave their work a crisp, slick appearance. Furthermore, as Dimitrije gradually became convinced of Ilija’s genius, the work presented a vexing political dilemma. Fearful that his father’s art would be judged, unfairly, in the context of his own ideological rivalry with Hegedusic, Dimitrije advised Ilija to conceal his identity. Ilija went to paint in the distant seaside village of Bosiljna, where the family had a vacation home, and emerged with a new pseudonym: Bosilj. Still Dimitrije did not dare show his father’s work at the Gallery of Primitive Art. Instead, in 1963 he arranged for “Ilija Bosilj” to debut in a one-man exhibition at the University of Belgrade. The work caused a sensation and was immediately requested for inclusion in two major surveys of “naïve” art, in Amsterdam and Paris. Jean Dubuffet acquired five paintings for his renowned collection of Art Brut.


If Ilija’s international success was a vindication of his son’s aesthetic instincts, on a local level it proved Dimitrije’s undoing. The conflict with Hegedusic masked a larger struggle for control of the Yugoslav art scene, a showdown between “moderate modernism” and the more freewheeling approach of neo-avant-garde groups like Gorgona. When Ilija’s true identity was revealed—inevitably, given his newfound fame—the entire Communist establishment ambushed the Basicevic family. It was a foregone conclusion that a dumb peasant like Ilija could not have painted such wondrous pictures. They must have been done by Dimitrije, or by Vojin, or perhaps by one of Vojin’s patients. The “affair” became a cause célèbre, milked by the state-controlled press for months on end. Finally, the City of Zagreb appointed a panel of noted art experts to watch Ilija paint. The father’s authorship was officially confirmed, but the damage to the son’s career was irreparable. Dimitrije resigned his post as director of the Gallery of Primitive Art in 1965. Hereafter his work took a more inward turn. He became less Dimitrije Basicevic, and more Mangelos.


The paranoia that prompted Mangelos to conceal his and his father’s artistic identities may readily be ascribed to the exigencies of life under a totalitarian regime. However there was more to it than this. The split between public and private selves derived from a shared fixation on dichotomies that can be traced back to both men’s traumatic wartime experiences of good and evil, kindness and cruelty. “People are like scarves with two faces,” Ilija liked to say, “claiming one thing today and another tomorrow.” The contradictory aspects of human nature are represented in his paintings by the recurrent motif of the two-faced or double-headed figure. Mangelos, in his writings, harps repeatedly on seemingly irreconcilable dualities: mind and body, spiritual and material, reason and instinct. Ilija and Mangelos themselves represented antipodes. While Mangelos saw himself as a rational observer of “mechanical civilization,” Ilija was a product of the fading agrarian era, a time when (according to his son) intuitive, spontaneous art was still possible. Even their pseudonyms evoke opposites: Mangelos, a graveyard, death; Bosilj (which translates loosely as “basil”), a carefree summer idyll, life.


As a border town, Shid was emblematic of the divided world that Ilija and Mangelos inhabited, and its main street, the Dzigura (where both were born), served as a metaphysical boundary line. In his paintings, Ilija sometimes took the flawed, corrupt denizens of the Dzigura and transported them to an imaginary planet ruled by love, which he named Ilijada. Birds were common subjects, sometimes designated as “ambassadors” linking Ilija’s two worlds. Human figures were often equipped with wings to prepare them for the journey to Ilijada. Seldom were their feet planted firmly on the ground. Iija’s characters were neither bound by gravity nor fixed within three-dimensional space. In color and form, he made few concessions to representational accuracy. Thus the artist added to the long list yet another dichotomy, between reality and fantasy.


Like Mangelos, Ilija divided his oeuvre into thematic cycles. In addition to “Ilijada,” “Flying People” and “Birds,” there were series devoted to “Animals,” “History, Folk Poems and Legends” and the “Bible.” Favorite subjects included the “Apocalypse” and “Noah’s Ark,” both narratives wherein new beginnings follow catastrophic endings. Just as Mangelos attempted to start from a blank slate, he observed that his father “made his own world like a new construction that followed a previous destruction.”


Also like his son, Ilija was interested in the symbolic language of art. A conventional representational painting, Mangelos observed, is an object symbolizing that which it is not: the real world. “Painting in general,” he wrote, “is a metaphor.” Metaphor joins content to form, and by extension, thought to feeling. Inasmuch as Ilija’s paintings reference a nonexistent world, they introduce what Mangelos characterized as “a new degree of symbolism.” The idiosyncratic nature of Ilija’s symbolism can make his work difficult to decode, but the artist helpfully incorporated in his paintings lollipop-shaped objects that he referred to as “keys.” These “keys” resemble flowers and are sometimes aligned in abstract borders. It has been said that they depict the female uterus, but this is only one interpretation. Mangelos likened them to hieroglyphs from an extinct alphabet. “The key is the secret and the key to the secret at the same time,” he wrote.


Both Ilija and Mangelos felt compelled to raise unanswered, and unanswerable, questions in their art. And both artists recognized the ultimate opacity of language, whether verbal or pictorial. Confounded by the acts of barbarism that could be committed by men who were, at the same time, loving fathers and devoted sons, Ilija and Mangelos each struggled to reconcile the contradictory aspects of human nature. These underlying similarities were, however, obscured by the very different iconography used by each artist and, above all, by the differences in their educational backgrounds. As Mangelos knew, formal schooling is not required to create art, but “mechanical civilization” had made art the exclusive purview of an intellectual elite. Ilija could never fully be accepted by this elite, just as Mangelos could not conform to the requirements of the Communist establishment. Ironically these two connoisseurs of contradiction were in the end both excised from the artistic mainstream by the defining dichotomies of their time and place.


Today globalization is gradually eroding the idea of a singular artistic mainstream. The boundaries between distinct cultures, between “inside” and “out” are blurring. As the hegemony of the West breaks down, so too does the dominance of any one art-historical narrative. Instead of a linear trajectory, we see a web of interconnected threads leading in many directions. While this multiplicity is liberating, the lack of an overriding hierarchical structure can be confusing. When everything is perceived as being equal, we lose the ability to make judgments, both artistic and moral. For those who cherish egalitarian values, this may be the most paradoxical contradiction of all.