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


(And Some Thoughts on the Current Art Market)

July 15, 2014 - September 26, 2014


Basicevic (Mangelos), Dimitrije

Basicevic, Ilija Bosilj

Beckmann, Max

Castle, James

Dix, Otto

Gill, Madge

Grosz, George

Heckel, Erich

Jones, Frank

Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Kollwitz, Käthe

Lesage, Augustin

Modersohn-Becker, Paula

Moses, Anna Mary Robertson ("Grandma")

Nedjar, Michel

Nolde, Emil

Pechstein, Hermann Max

Schiele, Egon

Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl

Wölfli, Adolf


“I want to start investing in contemporary art, but I can’t afford a good art advisor, so I don’t know what to buy."

-- “Millennial” talking to her friends at the Frieze Art Fair

The art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto, who died last year, was instrumental in describing and reifying the concept of the “art world”: an amalgamation of collectors, dealers, artists, curators, critics and art historians who have the power, collectively, to determine what is, or is not, art. A urinal ceases to be a plumbing fixture when the art world recognizes it as a vessel filled with artistic meaning. Removed from the bathroom and installed in a museum, the urinal becomes a work of art through the simple magic of re-contextualization. Danto’s art world is hermetic and tautological; a coven of self-anointed insiders. Whereas the early modernists (including the urinal’s “creator,” Marcel Duchamp) reviled the art establishment, the contemporary art world institutionalizes the avant-garde.

Danto’s other big theory involved the “end of art.” Conceived in the late 1980s, around the time that Francis Fukuyama was writing about the “end of history,” Danto’s idea was that art had reached the end of a progressive linear trajectory which began around 1400. Just as Fukuyama did not really believe historic events would cease to occur, Danto did not think people would stop making art. Both men, rather, sensed that the old unifying meta-narratives of history and art history were losing traction. Centuries of ideological squabbling had been superseded by the unopposed triumph of global capitalism. Similarly, modernism’s dogmatic manifesti, stylistic affiliations and sequential “isms” had been replaced by a tasting menu of disparate aesthetic options. These centrifugal forces, augmented by the decentralization intrinsic to globalization, chafe against the art world’s superstructure. Nonetheless the need for order and hierarchical values remains. In the absence of any overriding aesthetic consensus, judgments of relative importance are now increasingly made on the basis of financial worth. The art world still rules, but it is largely ruled by money.

Although art has always been associated with wealth, collectors were traditionally motivated primarily by aesthetic pleasure. The art world’s obsession with investment as an end unto itself is a comparatively new development, traceable in part to the inflation of the 1970s. While inflation causes all prices to rise, art values tend to lag, increasing more slowly than those of more frequently traded goods. Thus the illusion of windfall profits was created when, in the early 1980s, art prices finally caught up with everything else. As more sellers and buyers were drawn into the market by this illusion, it became a reality, at least for some. At the same time, art sales were becoming more public than ever before. In 1983 the shopping mall magnate Alfred Taubman bought Sotheby’s and began courting a retail clientele, turning what had heretofore been largely a wholesale marketplace for dealers into an arena for conspicuous consumption. The press was delighted to support the auction houses’ publicity machines, breathlessly touting each record price. Only the usually mild-mannered New York Times art critic John Russell demurred, remarking that the glamorous evening auctions had all the appeal of public executions.

The euphoric run-up in prices came to a temporary halt with the market downturn of the early 1990s. Sidelined by deep systemic economic woes, the Japanese were blamed for creating a bubble by buying indiscriminately in the 1980s. The rising tide of that decade had lifted all boats more or less equally, and people were now quick to point out that not everything created by a master is a masterpiece. Henceforth, “selectivity” became the mantra of dealers, collectors and auctioneers. However, even assuming that the marketplace is in every instance capable of discerning the nuances that distinguish a masterpiece from the average work, the market cannot always be relied upon to accurately calculate the price differential between the two. Is a masterpiece worth twice as much as an average picture? Ten times as much? More? With the rise of the so-called 1%, the differential has grown ever greater, as the auction houses focus more attention on the very top of the market. Along with the middle class, the middle market has atrophied. Auctions today are dominated by a small group of billionaires who literally make the market. If a work sells for an enormous sum, then it is, by definition, a masterpiece.

Through much of the last century, investment returns accrued relatively slowly. Just as it took time for new businesses to develop market share and become profitable, the art world reached a consensus regarding an artist’s importance gradually. In the interim, dealers nurtured the artist’s art-world credentials and raised prices incrementally, in sync with rising demand. Twenty-first-century investors crave faster returns, speculating on startups regardless of whether they are profitable and in the process causing stocks to rise in defiance of conventional price/earnings ratios. Similarly, those who view art as an investment asset are not in it for the long term. They are looking for a speedy turnaround, and the art world has, to some extent, learned to accommodate them.

Dealers and auction houses offer their best clients special deals that essentially make it possible for them to game the system. Roughly 50% of the lots in this spring’s Contemporary Art auctions were guaranteed. What this means is that in each such case a collector/investor was allowed to lock in a presale bid and to participate in the upside (including the auction house’s commission) if bidding rose above that amount. Guarantors receive inside information about the seller’s supposedly secret reserve price and a chance to profit regardless of whether the lot sells high or low. Deep-pocketed investors, such as the Muhgrabi and Nahmad families, have accumulated vast inventories by taking advantage of vagaries in the auction process to buy works at less than what they perceive to be full retail value. The Nahmads (whose scion, Helly, was recently sentenced to a year prison for his participation in an international gambling ring) have at times reportedly bid on up to one third of the lots in the Impressionist and Modern sales.

Those with lesser resources try to cash in on rising new talent. “People talk about flipping an artwork in a year or two,” writes contemporary dealer Kenny Schachter, “but I’ve admittedly done so within a matter of months, even weeks.…This practice is fueled by the recent phenomenon of historic prices being achieved for very young artists with little or no market or exhibition history.” Olyvia Kwok, founder of an art fund predicated on reselling works within three months to a year, notes that, “If you see art purely as a commercial investment, it is important to create or follow a trend, which in art changes every two to three years.” Schachter ascribes this frothy action in part to newly rich buyers from Russia, China and the Middle East. “With low interest rates and volatile stock and commodities markets, where else can you attain such high returns in no time at all?” he asks. “The wealth of new buyers is growing exponentially, but they only want the obvious things by obvious artists, which is why you read of so many artists’ markets snowballing into self-fulfilling prophecies.” “Especially for pieces by younger artists,” notes a critic in The Guardian, “the value of a work of art inheres primarily in the faith that a few very rich people believe it matters.”

The meta-narratives alluded to by Fukuyama and Danto were resoundingly Eurocentric, crafted by philosophers like Georg Hegel and art historians like Alfred Barr. Today’s money narrative is global. Beyond its investment potential, art is a way for the citizens of volatile non-Western countries to shelter income abroad, perhaps in the process evading the scrutiny of domestic tax authorities. Like real estate in global capitals such as New York or London, art offers a safe haven should things turn nasty at home. But in order for art to serve this purpose it must be recognized as an international commodity. Thus Western dealers and auctioneers are battling to establish credibility with non-Western collectors. Art Basel has expanded to Hong Kong, and Christie’s was proud to announce that half the top buyers in its evening auction of contemporary art were Asian. So far Western art still dominates the international marketplace, but that may change. America’s nineteenth-century industrial titans collected European masterpieces; the “American century” was half over before New York was internationally recognized as a center of artistic production. Art follows the money, and the money is heading East.

One of the dangers of the current obsession with quick profits is that it belies the traditional connection between supply and demand. Prices get pushed up before an artist has acquired a meaningful collector base. Even with all those guarantees and Asian bidders, there were not enough buyers to sustain three nights of successful Contemporary sales in New York this year. After two buoyant evenings at Christie’s, Sotheby’s Contemporary auction failed to meet its low estimate and ended with 12 unsold lots. The Impressionist and Modern sales the week before were lackluster for both houses. As classical modern material becomes harder to find, the buzz has moved on to the contemporary arena, creating a paradoxical situation in which rarity can actually cause prices to drop by weakening demand. Much like Old Masters, the Impressionist/Modern sales category may one day revert to pre-Taubman conditions, becoming a quiet backwater visited mainly by dealers. Difficulty summoning enough bidders to make auctions viable at a retail level has pushed Sotheby’s and Christie’s to beef up their private-treaty sales operations. Yet it is debatable whether the auction houses, whose “experts” are of necessity generalists, are as effective as specialist dealers in serving niche markets.

The winner-take-all dynamic that permeates both the art world and the larger economy has had a devastating effect on America’s smaller museums, many of which are struggling to stay afloat. The outrage that greeted the Museum of Modern Art’s recent decision to tear down the American Folk Art Museum’s former home had less to do with the destruction of an architectural gem than with the seemingly unjust triumph of a veritable Goliath over a smaller, less solvent competitor. The Folk Art Museum was able to regroup without selling any of its collection, but other institutions, including the National Academy of Design and the Delaware Art Museum, have not been so fortunate. Detroit’s creditors are ogling the bankrupt city’s Institute of Arts, and with offers of up to $2 billion on the table, there is a possibility that the museum’s treasures will be sold to the highest bidder. When art is viewed merely as an asset, the intangible benefits provided by museums—as sources of community pride, educational centers, bastions of collective cultural heritage and inspirations for future generations—fall by the wayside.

Another byproduct of the investment mentality has been a sometimes vindictive or opportunistic backlash against the art world. The rising value of art, combined with the bitterness produced by income inequality, has led to a marked increase in art-related litigation. Authenticators are imperiled equally by suits from disgruntled collectors and by the deceptive allure of skillful forgeries. Even as people try to come to terms with the fact that the esteemed Knoedler Gallery sold a raft of fakes, there are those who think finding a “Pollock” or a “Rothko” at a flea market is like winning the lottery, and that authenticators who withhold approval are part of a conspiracy to defraud them. Copying—an age-old staple of art-school training and the métier of certain contemporary artists—is under threat from infringement suits both by mega corporations and by lesser-known creators of source images who have failed to reap the financial rewards of appropriators like Richard Prince and Jeff Koons. The mere threat of litigation—over a deal gone wrong, a work sold for too little or bought for too much—is frequently used to extract financial retribution from potential defendants unwilling to endure the strains of a trial. Sadly, this form of extortion has also infected the realm of Holocaust restitution, where art works can be rendered virtually unsalable by unsubstantiated claims that would never stand up in court. While there are clearly instances of malfeasance that justify legal action, the art world is often targeted simply because it is perceived as a repository of illicit wealth.

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of the investment game is that it is, on many levels, wrongheaded. Art is inherently resistant to the objective metrics that underpin rational investment strategies. “A business needs to be profitable to exist,” writes Melanie Gerlis, author of Art as an Investment? A Survey of Comparative Assets. “It therefore makes sense that people should want to invest in its possible growth through shares. A painting can exist perfectly easily without generating any profit at all.” Unlike real estate, art does not produce rental income. On the contrary, it costs money to insure, store and conserve. Art’s relative illiquidity and the uniqueness of each individual object distinguish it from commodities like gold. Uniqueness also distinguishes art objects from commercially manufactured luxury products, although the two realms increasingly share a fixation on branding, status and celebrity. “Even when there are several items that are seemingly identical, such as editions of the same photograph or sculpture,” Gerlis writes, “each has a history of ownership, trading or exhibition that separates one ascribed value from another.” “Art,” she concludes, “is probably the least commoditized asset in the investment universe, offering the potential for great returns but also subject to enormous risk.”

For a time, speculative markets are self-perpetuating, but eventually they collapse due to poor underlying fundamentals. The art market today is weakened not just by inequities between demand and supply, but by the superficial goals of the investment community. Vast segments of the art world have come to resemble the fashion and entertainment industries, with their focus on fleeting trends and ephemeral spectacle. The judgment required to ascertain long-term value is sorely lacking.

In retrospect, the narratives that shaped twentieth-century aesthetic judgments were never wholly accurate, and they grew less so when critics and art historians forced the disparate strains of European modernism into a cohesive theoretical package designed to justify America’s cultural ascendancy. The linear trajectory of which Danto wrote was an illusion. Today’s art world is potentially far more egalitarian, open to the work of all nations and all cultural traditions. But the lack of any overriding structure poses unprecedented challenges to connoisseurship. In its misguided attempt to commoditize art, the art world has forgotten that art’s greatest achievements lie in its ability to transcend material values, to embody such ineffable qualities as empathic humanism, spiritual uplift and beauty. The art world needs to redirect its focus and start doing its job.


Those of us who share an interest in what is euphemistically known as “outsider” art have long spent time poking around in areas that were underserved by the modernist narrative. “The Encyclopedic Palace,” a focal point of last year’s Venice Biennale, proposed various alternative narratives that presented “outsider” and “insider” material on a level playing field. However these pairings, mostly reliant on superficial visual or typological similarities, did not pay sufficient attention to each individual artist’s developmental framework, context or viewpoint. The Galerie St. Etienne has always believed that the work of self-taught artists can best be studied by using the same methodology applied to their trained colleagues. We try, first of all, to understand the artist’s intentions, as shaped by his or her individual surroundings and idiosyncrasies, and then we evaluate the artist’s success in visualizing those intentions. We have found that, contrary to popular myth, the best self-taught artists are influenced by outside sources and refine their aesthetic approaches over time, just as schooled artists do.

The Galerie St. Etienne’s spring exhibition paired the work of Ilija Basicevic, a Serbian peasant who had four years of elementary schooling, with that of his son Dmitrije (known as Mangelos), a trained art historian lately recognized as one of the forerunners of international conceptualism. Father and son experienced persecution during World War II, struggled under the Communist regime that followed, and were as a result artistically preoccupied by images of destruction and renewal. Despite these underlying similarities, however, the two artists are perceived very differently by the art world due to the differences in their iconography and educational backgrounds. Following up on the precedent set in Venice, the gallery’s exhibition endeavored to jettison the outmoded “outsider” and “insider” labels by presenting each artist on his own terms. Our summer exhibition includes a concise version of the Ilija/Mangelos installation, as well as works by noteworthy self-taught artists such as James Castle, Madge Gill, Frank Jones, Augustin Lesage, Grandma Moses, Michel Nedjar and Adolf Wölfli.

As is customary, the Galerie St. Etienne’s summer show not only surveys recent acquisitions, but also recaps the past season’s projects. In the autumn of 2013, we presented the complete print cycles of Käthe Kollwitz, and we opened the New Year by commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. Male artists--such as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and George Grosz--who fought in that war are known for their graphic depictions of the brutal conflict, but Kollwitz’s depictions of the privations at home are equally shocking. Our summer exhibition contains key works on this theme by all four artists.

Perhaps our most spectacular new acquisition this year is a group of three major paintings by Paula Modersohn-Becker, from the largest such collection in America. Important works by the artist, who died following childbirth at the age of 31, seldom appear on the market. We have also managed to obtain a life-sized oil portrait by Otto Dix from his Neue Sachlichkeit period, and Egon Schiele’s beautiful watercolor of Elisabeth Lederer, daughter of the prominent Klimt patrons August and Serena Lederer. Another highlight of the show is a pair of studies for Klimt’s final, uncompleted painting The Bride: one showing the bride in a state of virginal innocence, and the second depicting her in the throes of erotic ecstasy after the wedding. Our exhibition is rounded out by a selection of rare (in some cases unique) lithographs and etchings by the pioneering Brücke artists Erich Heckel, E.L. Kirchner, Max Pechstein and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.