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Past Exhibitions

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

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

Wunderkammer

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


Ilija/Mangelos

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


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 American 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


Ilija!

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


Taboo

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


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


Drawn to Text: Comix Artists as Book Illustrators

May 15, 1994 - January 7, 1995


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


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


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


I-Fa-Wei

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

Masterworks

October 18, 1948


American Primitives

June 3, 1948


Egon Schiele

Memorial Exhibition

April 5, 1948


Miriam Richman

February 7, 1948


Vally Wieselthier

Memorial Exhibition

January 10, 1948


Christmas Exhibition

December 4, 1947


Fritz von Unruh

November 10, 1947


Käthe Kollwitz

October 4, 1947


Grandma Moses

May 17, 1947


Lovis Corinth

April 16, 1947


Hugo Steiner-Prag

March 15, 1947


Mark Baum

January 11, 1947


Eugen Spiro

November 25, 1946


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

May 17, 1946


Ladis W. Sabo

Paintings by a New Primitive Artist

April 8, 1946


Georges Rouault

The Graphic Work

February 26, 1946


Käthe Kollwitz

Memorial Exhibition

November 21, 1945


Fred E. Robertson

Paintings by an American Primitive

June 13, 1945


Max Liebermann

The Graphic Work

April 18, 1945


Vienna through Four Centuries

March 1, 1945


Eugen Spiro

January 20, 1945


Grandma Moses

New Paintings

December 5, 1944


Käthe Kollwitz

Part II

October 26, 1944


A Century of French Graphic Art

From Géricault to Picasso

September 28, 1944


Max Liebermann

Memorial Exhibition

June 9, 1944


Juan De'Prey

Paintings by a Self-Taught Artist from Puerto Rico

May 6, 1944


Abraham Levin

April 15, 1944


Lesser Ury

Memorial Exhibition

March 21, 1944


Grandma Moses

Paintings by the Senior of the American Primitives

February 9, 1944


Betty Lane

January 11, 1944


WaIt Disney Cavalcade

December 9, 1943


Käthe Kollwitz

Part I

November 3, 1943


Will Barnet

September 29, 1943


Lovis Corinth

May 26, 1943


Josephine Joy

Paintings by an American Primitive

May 3, 1943


Oskar Kokoschka

Aspects of His Art

March 31, 1943


Eugen Spiro

February 13, 1943


Seymour Lipton

January 18, 1943


Illuminated Gothic Woodcuts

Printed and Painted, 1477-1493

December 5, 1942


Abraham Levin

November 4, 1942


Walt Disney Originals

September 23, 1942


Documents which Relate History

Documents of Historical Importance and Landmarks of Human Development

June 10, 1942


Honoré Daumier

April 29, 1942


Bertha Trabich

Memorial Exhibition of a Russian-American Primitive

March 25, 1942


Alfred Kubin

Master of Drawing

December 4, 1941


Egon Schiele

November 7, 1941


Betty Lane

June 3, 1941


Flowers from Old Vienna

18th and Early 19th Century Flower Painting

May 7, 1941


Weavings by Navaho and Hopi Indians and Photos of Indians by Helen M. Post

January 29, 1941


Georg Merkel

November 7, 1940


What a Farm Wife Painted

Works by Mrs. Anna Mary Moses

October 9, 1940


Saved from Europe

Masterpieces of European Art

July 1, 1940


American Abstract Art

May 22, 1940


Franz Lerch

May 1, 1940


Wilhelm Thöny

April 3, 1940


French Masters of the 19th and 20th Centuries

February 29, 1940


H. W. Hannau

Metropolis, Photographic Studies of New York

February 2, 1940


Oskar Kokoschka

January 9, 1940


Austrian Masters

November 13, 1939


THE WOMAN QUESTION

Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka

March 14, 2017 - June 30, 2017

ARTISTS

Klimt, Gustav

Kokoschka, Oskar

Schiele, Egon

ESSAY

At the turn of the twentieth century, “the woman question” was widely debated in Europe and the United States. Though discussions of woman’s intrinsic nature recur throughout Western intellectual history, the industrial revolution had given the issue exceptional urgency. The decline of the agrarian economy forced many poor women into low-paying menial jobs or prostitution. A bourgeois woman expected to receive material support from her husband, but if she failed to marry, was widowed or divorced, she had no meaningful professional options. Demands for equal pay, expanded educational opportunities, property and voting rights fueled the fin-de-siècle women’s movement.

 

This challenge to the patriarchy provoked a particularly volatile reaction in Austria-Hungary. The Viennese capital had experienced enormous growth in the second half of the nineteenth century, attracting immigrants from across the vast multinational Empire. Ethnic tensions, housing shortages, poverty and income inequality rose dramatically and could not adequately be remedied by the moribund Habsburg court or its ossified bureaucracy. As the Empire began to fragment, gender became an overarching preoccupation that subsumed subordinate conflicts involving national identity, socioeconomic class and political ideology. From scientific thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Richard Krafft-Ebing to self-proclaimed “experts” like Otto Weininger, from the playwright Arthur Schnitzler to the artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, Vienna’s leading intellectuals were seemingly obsessed with sex.

 

To this day, no one has succeeded in fully teasing apart the intertwined strands of sex (which is biological) and gender (which is socially constructed). Attempts to answer the “woman question” are invariably shaped by the biases of a given time. Men tend to define “femininity” in accordance with their own agenda, and women, likewise influenced by patriarchal surroundings, are often complicit in these efforts. Both Freud and Vienna’s bourgeois feminists thought that female identity is rooted in motherhood. Marianne Hainisch, founder of the League for Extended Women’s Education and the Federation of Austrian Women’s Associations, declared that women are superior to men owing to an innate propensity for “devotion, self-sacrifice and humility.” Hainisch’s acolyte, the progressive educator Eugenie Schwarzwald, wanted to lead humanity back to “the primal mother.” Freud categorically insisted that women devote themselves to raising children. Female intellectual or professional ambition, he averred, was symptomatic of unhealthy penis envy.

 

Science has frequently been used to muster ostensibly objective evidence in support of subjective gender stereotypes. Charles Darwin believed women are inferior to men, and misogynistic writers such as Weininger (whose 1903 tract Sex and Character was a bestseller) happily expanded on this notion. Evolution, it was said, gave women smaller bones and brains than men, making them inherently weaker and stupider. Just as hermaphroditic life forms gradually evolved into creatures with two distinct genders, theorists suggested that the human sexes had become more sharply differentiated over time. Gender parity came to be associated with the threat of devolution or degeneration, and human progress with male dominance.

 

Under the larger rubric of the fin-de-siècle “woman question,” female sexuality received special scrutiny. For centuries males had been associated with civilization, culture, spirituality and intelligence, and females with primitivism, nature, lust and instinct. Now this dichotomy was given a Darwinian spin: females were not just creatures of nature, they were consumed by their biological imperative. “Woman is devoted totally to sexual matters, that is to say, to the spheres of begetting and reproduction,” Weininger noted disdainfully. More progressive thinkers, opposed to the constraints of bourgeois morality, were delighted by such allegations of rampant nymphomania. Writing about Klimt’s nudes, the critic Hermann Bahr enthused that, “everything about the woman belongs to lust.” The architect Adolf Loos and his cronies, writers Peter Altenberg and Karl Kraus, believed woman’s sole purpose was to inspire man with her sensuous allure. Yet Loos and Kraus shared Altenberg’s opinion that “woman sucks us dry, spiritually.” Even liberal views of female sexuality were often tinged with misogyny.

 

Countering the image of unfettered female lust projected by Weininger, Freud and Krafft-Ebing maintained that sexual desire is not “normal” in a woman. Less incompatible than they seem, these divergent perspectives reflect a shared fear of female libido, as well as the class-based nature of contemporary sexual mores. Bourgeois girls were indeed instructed to suppress their erotic proclivities, while their brothers were encouraged to “sow their wild oats” with prostitutes, shop-girls, maidservants and the like. Viennese society affirmed the age-old split between the Madonna (exemplified by Freud’s frigid mothers) and the whore (judged “inherently wanton”). Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka adhered in differing ways to this double standard, which influenced both their relationships with and their depictions of the opposite sex.

 

Klimt never married, but early in adulthood, he developed an abiding friendship with Emilie Flöge, a talented dress designer some twelve years his junior. It is not clear whether their relationship was sexual in nature. Some speculate that Klimt maintained a platonic distance because he had contracted syphilis. In any event, the artist had numerous liaisons with charwomen and models, whose social standing was scarcely better than that of prostitutes. He seems to have had little sustained contact with his various illegitimate children, and provided scant emotional or financial support to their mothers. Klimt was much in demand as a society portraitist, and it is tempting to imagine that he occasionally slept with the bored bourgeois ladies who were his chief clients. However there is no evidence that such was the case, and it is more likely that the class divide between these genteel ladies and the comparatively unrefined Klimt was unbridgeable. Friederike Maria Beer, who was painted by him in 1916, described the artist as animalistic. “He even smelled like an animal,” she recalled.

 

The Madonna/whore dichotomy is viscerally fleshed out in Klimt’s art. His portraits, especially the gold ones, explicitly reference Byzantine icons. The women are cloaked from neck to toe in sumptuous abstract garments that give little sense of an underlying physical body. The only reference to sexuality is coded in discreet symbols of ova and sperm, which are sometimes tucked into the folds of the dress. Nor do the sitters reveal much in the way of personality. The contemporary critic Bertha Zuckerkandl remarked approvingly that the artist did away with “any individual characteristics, so that only the typical, a sublime extract of the female type, is captured in pure style.” Weininger phrased similar thoughts more harshly: “In…the absolute female…the ground for the assumption of a soul is absent.”

 

If Klimt’s society portraits have the decorative sterility of icons, his allegorical nudes and his drawings are awash in sexuality. The female nude, of course, is a venerable subject in Western art, but female sexuality per se is a more vexed matter. Traditional paintings of nudes were created by male artists, to be seen and enjoyed by male viewers. In Freudian terms, however, masculine pleasure in such works was imperiled by castration anxiety, a consequence of the woman’s “missing” penis. The female nude therefore had to be transformed from an active threat into an inert, depersonalized object via a process of visual pruning and containment. Beauty was foremost among the devices artists used to this end. The classical female nude was unblemished, a perfect specimen of nubile flesh and soothing, voluptuous form. Often her pubic area was discreetly masked. Beyond this, by placing the nude in a mythical, historical or Biblical context, the artist could subordinate her eroticism to a higher moral purpose. The nude’s subservience was further affirmed by passivity; typically she reclined. Single-point perspective firmly pinioned her within the picture frame and distanced her from the male observer. Looking was the man’s prerogative. The female nude did not usually respond to the artist’s gaze; if she engaged with the hypothetical viewer, it was in the form of a flirtation rather than a challenge.

 

Gustav Klimt was among the first artists to explore female sexuality as a subject in its own right. And he was widely attacked for doing so. Forgoing standard historical or mythological settings in his allegories, he allowed his nudes to float freely, without any mollifying moral context. He dared depict pregnant nudes, merging the narratives of the Madonna and the whore to suggest that there are no virgin births. In many respects, however, Klimt’s nudes reflect the gender stereotypes common to his time and place. By repeatedly representing naked women as amphibious creatures in such paintings as Moving Water, he affirmed the prevalent belief that females are primitive and irrational. As evidenced by the artist’s many femmes fatales, he shared with Weininger and Freud a fear of unrestrained female libido. Female sexuality is brought under control in Klimt’s later erotic drawings. Like traditional examples of the genre, these nudes are beautiful, passive and often oblivious to the point of catatonia. There is nothing here to disturb the primacy of the male gaze.

 

Egon Schiele grew up in a household dominated by women, and he was especially close to his younger sister, Gerti. Gerti was his most important early model, but by 1910 most of the artist’s female subjects came from the Viennese underclass. These included the indigent patients of the gynecologist Erwin Graff, vagrant children and teenaged prostitutes. We do not know the names of any of these models, but two young women recur frequently in Schiele’s work from late 1910 and 1911, and it is evident that he had sexual relations with at least one of them. The artist’s first serious girlfriend, Wally Neuzil, was likewise a model. In these dalliances, Schiele conformed to then-standard bourgeois custom, which dictated that prior to marriage a young man should gain sexual experience in the demi-monde. He reclaimed his bourgeois birthright in 1915, rejecting Wally and marrying Edith Harms, the daughter of a civil servant. Edith was embarrassed to pose naked, less it seems out of prudery than because she feared being recognized by acquaintances. The artist, for his part, had difficulty assuming the role of bourgeois husband, and there is evidence that within two years of the wedding he had begun to cheat. By 1918, when Edith became pregnant with their first child, she felt isolated and estranged from her partner’s world.

 

Profoundly influenced by Klimt, Schiele picked up where the master left off in his explorations of female sexuality. But Schiele was only twenty when he executed his first artistically mature works, and emotionally he was still an adolescent. Simultaneously terrified and enthralled by the erotic potency of his lover/models, the artist granted the female nude an unprecedented degree of autonomy. Unwittingly, he violated almost every convention of the genre. The classical ideal of harmony was not just ignored, it was forcefully undermined by contorted poses and awkward cropping. Far from being passive receptacles for male desire, these nudes are bluntly confrontational, often returning the artist’s gaze. Nonetheless it is impossible to know what the women are thinking or whether these images depict their reactions to Schiele, or his reactions to them. It is not clear who is subject and who is object. The artist’s compositional strategies further undermine this distinction. Frequently, he had his model lie on a mattress placed on the floor, while he perched above her on a stool or ladder. By omitting any surrounding detail from his drawings and frequently giving recumbent figures a vertical reading, he created a profound sense of spatial dislocation. The resulting tension between the subject and the edge of the picture plane calls into question the ability of the latter to contain the former. Instead of receding comfortably into the distance, Schiele’s nudes appear to jump out at the viewer.

 

Schiele’s marriage in 1915 was accompanied by a change in his approach to female subject matter. His nudes became less disruptive, more conventionally beautiful. Though the artist was still prone to spatial dislocation, the figures were more realistic, the lines smoother, the forms rounder. At the same time, Schiele’s experiences with Wally and Edith had given him a deeper understanding of the female psyche. His later portraits of women, particularly those of the mercurial, frequently unhappy Edith, are characterized by a newly tender specificity. However, a comparison of these portraits with photos of Wally and Edith also reveals distinct differences between image and reality. The faces in Schiele’s representations are softer, more delicate, the eyes and lips more pronounced. Melding conventional idealization with a new acknowledgment of female sexual empowerment, Schiele’s later work anticipates the images of femininity that have come to dominate contemporary popular culture.

 

Unlike Klimt and Schiele, Kokoschka from the outset had difficulty relating to the opposite sex. His first significant artistic achievement, an adult fairy tale titled The Dreaming Youths, was inspired by an unrequited passion for Lilith Lang, a classmate at the Vienna School of Applied Arts. The artist’s text reveals an aggressivity that would become more pronounced in his next literary effort, Murderer, Hope of Women. By the time the play debuted at the 1909 “Kunstschau” (an exhibition of international modern art), Kokoschka had been adopted as Adolf Loos’s protégé. Clearly the young artist shared the misogynistic views of Loos’s circle. In Kokoschka’s play, the male protagonist, drained by female lust, regains his strength by killing the woman.

 

Kokoschka’s affair with Alma Mahler, widow of the composer Gustav Mahler, exemplifies the fin-de-siècle battle between the sexes. Oskar considered Alma, whom he met in 1912, his “maternal genius” and wanted to control her completely. Over a two-and-a-half- year period, he pursued her with the crazed tenacity of a stalker, bombarding her with more than 400 love letters and hovering outside her home to check on her fidelity. “I will not have any gods before me,” the artist commanded. “I won’t be diverted, you are of one mind with me and will live with me until I have pulled out by the roots everything in you that bewilders me, chills me and makes me unhappy.” Alma evidently reciprocated Oskar’s love, but she refused to bend to his dictates and ultimately felt compelled to leave him. As recounted by Kokoschka in numerous allegorical paintings, drawings and prints, the man in this story is no longer a victorious murderer of woman, but rather a martyr to female perfidy. In a final testament to the doomed affair, Pietà, Alma plays the role of the Virgin Mary, with her lover as the dead Christ.

 

For a number of reasons, the nude has a less significant place in Kokoschka’s work than in the art of Klimt and Schiele. The latter two artists were trained in the classical manner, and life drawing was central to their studio practice. Kokoschka, as a student at the School of Applied Art, focused more on decorative assignments such as posters and book illustration. Furthermore, because Klimt and Schiele had frequent sexual encounters with the demi-monde, the roles of model and lover were for them interchangeable. However Kokoschka’s early love interests, Lilith and Alma, were above him in social station. It is not clear whether Lilith, then sixteen, modeled for The Dreaming Youths. The bony, angular figure of “Li” in the illustrations is in any case improbably androgynous, the sort of “Kind-Mädchen” (child-girl) favored by Loos and his friend Altenberg. Fear of adult female sexuality continued to haunt Kokoschka’s later nudes, which are largely devoid of erotic appeal.

 

Given that Alma Mahler was generally considered the most desirable woman in Vienna—a living femme fatale—Kokoschka’s pictures of her are surprisingly unattractive. Alma herself does not seem to have posed nude. Rather Oskar used models from the School of Applied Art as “body doubles,” onto whom he projected his lover’s features. Broad in the thigh, small of breast, Alma (who had borne two children) was more mother than sex object in Kokoschka’s depictions. Her face, and in fact all the faces in the artist’s portraits of women, lack the sort of idealization seen in Schiele’s later work. It is hard to imagine falling in love with Kokoschka’s Galatea—as her original creator, Pygmalion, did in Greek myth. Kokoschka’s approach to female portraits differed not at all from his approach to male portraits. The artist’s refusal to beautify his images of women may reflect his own resentments, but the work also presages a more gender-neutral view of the female persona.

 

Gustav Klimt died of complications following a stroke in early 1918. Egon Schiele, his wife and their unborn child succumbed to the Spanish Influenza epidemic later that year. Oskar Kokoschka lived until 1980, enjoying an international renown in the immediate postwar period that eluded his compatriots until the final decades of the twentieth century. The work of all three artists remains as pertinent today as it was at the turn of the last century, because the “woman question” remains unanswered. The old stereotypes of the dangerous femme fatale and the vacuous, submissive sex object persist in the popular imagination. In our visually saturated culture, images of women are ubiquitous. Men are still the subjects of much visual practice, the ones who do the looking, while women (in the famous words of critic John Berger) “watch themselves being looked at.” Women harness their sexual powers to collude in their objectification, struggling to meet the unrealistic standards of beauty put forth by the mass media. The media’s feminine ideal fosters feelings of inadequacy not only in women, but also in men, who fear rejection and are ashamed if their mate fails to measure up.

 

Science has so far been of little help in sorting all this out. We are told that men prefer women with hourglass figures and baby-like faces because these traits signify fertility—the implication being that natural selection favors traditional gender stereotypes. Brain imaging makes it possible to track the similarities and differences between male and female sexual response, but it is hard to ascertain whether these responses are biologically predetermined or socially conditioned. Although the binary distinction between masculine and feminine, nature and nurture, seems increasingly untenable, it continues to confound. The recognition that biological sex, gender identity and sexual orientation are three different things further confuses matters. At the same time, women have yet to achieve full equality with men, and many men still find women at once threatening and alluring. The battle between the sexes has reached a stalemate, with no clear resolution in sight.

 

The present exhibition recapitulates, in abridged form, The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka, which Galerie St. Etienne co-director Jane Kallir curated for the Belvedere Museum, Vienna, in 2015-16. We would like to warmly thank the many lenders who made it possible to reassemble that show on American soil. The Galerie St. Etienne’s exhibition coordinator, Courtney Donner, also provided invaluable contributions to the project. Copies of the catalogue for the Belvedere exhibition (240 pages, 231 color illustrations, hardcover) may be ordered for $60.00, plus $15.00 for domestic handling & shipping; New York residents, please add sales tax. Checklist entries are accompanied by their citations in the Belvedere catalogue and their catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable.