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


American Artists and the Communist Party

October 18, 2016 - March 4, 2017


Baskin, Leonard

Bryson Shahn, Bernarda

Coe, Sue

Daugherty, James H.

Davis, Stuart

Evergood, Philip

Gellert, Hugo

Gropper, William

Grosz, George

Kagy, Sheffield

Kronfeld, Marion Campbell

Levine, Jack

Lozowick, Louis

Neel, Alice

Shahn, Ben

Soyer, Raphael

Sternberg, Harry

Unidentified Artist

Ward, Lynd


In the 1930s, the Great Depression’s far-reaching economic impact lent credence to the Marxist belief that capitalism was doomed. Membership in the Communist Party U.S.A. (CPUSA) swelled, and artists became increasingly politicized. The near total collapse of the art market fostered interest in alternative modes of patronage. Recognizing that, even in good times, the elitist art establishment showers its favors on a mere handful of creators, artists cultivated new audiences and a broader relationship with society at large. At the heart of this quest were issues that bedevil artists to this day. Whom does art serve? By whom and by what standards should it be judged? For a brief period, artists tried to conjure an art world beyond the reach of the capitalist marketplace.


From the outset, the Communist Party, both in America and abroad, viewed art as “a weapon in the class struggle,” but the specifics of its aesthetic program were subject to vagaries of interpretation and the shifting priorities of the Soviet leadership. In addition to using art for propaganda purposes, Communists hoped to develop a distinctive workers’ art, free of “bourgeois decadence” and the conflicts engendered by capitalism. In the U.S., these efforts were initially driven by the Party’s culture magazine, New Masses, and its offshoot, the John Reed Club. Founded in 1929 and named after a cofounder of the CPUSA, the John Reed Club aimed to unite “cultural workers” in furtherance of the “international revolutionary labor movement.” Responding to “a crisis in art as deep, if not as obvious, as the economic crisis,” Club members would wrest control of culture from the elite and reestablish it on a sounder social footing.


In keeping with the directives of the Communist International (Comintern) , the John Reed Club initially disdained any sort of association with the bourgeoisie. But after Hitler came to power in 1933, Stalin adopted a more expansive tone designed to enlist the support of Western democracies in fighting fascism. The new Party line, dubbed the Popular Front, was announced at the Comintern’s Seventh World Congress in August 1935. At around the same time, a representative of the CPUSA’s Central Committee advised the John Reed Club (of which there were by now about thirty chapters) to broaden its reach by bringing “intellectuals into closer contact with the working class.”


Over the course of the spring and summer of 1935, leaders of the John Reed Club’s New York branch met repeatedly at the ACA Galleries to discuss forming a more inclusive artists’ association. Stuart Davis was appointed executive secretary; Hugo Gellert, Louis Lozowick, Ben Shahn and Lynd Ward were also among those who helped craft the new organization’s agenda. Its goals included improving ties between artists and the general public, encouraging government patronage, support of expressive freedom and opposition to war and fascism. An initial “Call for Artists” was published in New Masses in October 1935, and in February 1936, the American Artists’ Congress held its first public meeting in New York City.


The American Artists’ Congress was one of many Communist “front” organizations (a concept derived from the term Popular Front) that proliferated in the 1930s and thereafter. Although artists such as Gellert, William Gropper, Lozowick and Raphael Soyer had early ties to the Communist Party, a front organization by definition aimed to attract less radical associates. Party discipline could be harsh, and membership required frequent meetings as well as participation in seemingly endless pickets and demonstrations. Many artists therefore preferred to remain “fellow travelers,” rather than join up. The artist Bernarda Bryson, who would later marry Ben Shahn, found the Party’s dogmatism “insufferable” and quit after being reprimanded once too often for stepping out of line. Due to all the foregoing complexities, the CPUSA maintained at most loose control over the American Artists’ Congress and similar front organizations.


In the interest of preserving “collective solidarity,” the Artists’ Congress refused to take sides in the stylistic debates then roiling the art world. Abstraction, comprehensible neither to the proletariat nor to most Americans, was a problem for both hard-line Communists and conservatives. Soviet critics considered modernism a bourgeois affectation, and right-wingers considered it un-American. There was also a general sense that abstraction, associated with prewar French Cubism, had had its moment, and that the exigencies of the present demanded a return to realism. Stylistically, the gritty work of the social realists and the idealized landscapes painted by the more reactionary Regionalists were quite similar.


Nonetheless, many artists on the left were partial to modernism. Lozowick incorporated Cubist elements in his depictions of the urban scene and was taken to task by New Masses for being “arty.” George Grosz, a member of the German Communist Party who had begun teaching at the Art Students League shortly before Hitler’s election and wisely decided to stay on in New York, was a significant influence. The exaggeration and emotional intensity of Expressionism shaped Gropper’s scathing caricatures, as well as the graphic language of Ward’s wordless novels and the painterly pathos of Philip Evergood and Jack Levine. Davis was at pains to reconcile Marxist ideology with his personal allegiance to abstraction. “In its internal form and its external relation to reality,” he hoped, “modern art could stimulate radical change in the political and economic structure of America.”


Davis’s commitment to social justice was expressed primarily in written polemics and organizational activities. The latter in fact usurped so much time that his artistic output declined noticeably in the 1930s. Other politically oriented artists expressed their convictions more directly in paintings, drawings and prints. Gropper and Lozowick (a Ukrainian immigrant) visited the Soviet Union and returned with visions of a dawning workers’ paradise, which artists compared to what New Masses termed “hell on the Hudson.” The inequities of the capitalist system—the brutal suppression of striking laborers, the lynching of African Americans, the unjust execution of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti—were explored in searing detail. Hortatory posters and cartoons spelled out the issues. Images of heroic workers, bloated fat cats and corrupt politicians viscerally illustrated the divide between labor and capital, while the privations of the Depression were another common subject. Empathy alone, however, did not pass muster with the comrades back in Russia. Soyer was chided for depicting the homeless as passive victims rather than revolutionaries in the making.


If the Depression-era art world remained divided on matters of style, content and ideology, there was relative unanimity regarding the artists’ economic plight. Artists insisted they be accorded the same benefits as other unemployed workers. In 1933, members of the John Reed Club organized the Unemployed Artists’ Group and issued a manifesto demanding that the government “eliminate once and for all the unfortunate dependence of American artists upon the caprice of private patronage.” In 1934, the Roosevelt administration established the Public Works of Art Project, the first of several New Deal programs designed to aid artists. The Unemployed Artists’ Group subsequently changed its name to the Artists’ Union, which throughout the 1930s represented artists in occasionally violent negotiations with their government employers.


The need to remedy capitalism’s failings created common ground between the U.S. government and the radical left. “New Deal” was a gambling metaphor, derived from a political cartoon illustrating a poker game among a “crooked politician,” “big biz” and a “speculator.” Roosevelt believed the Depression had been caused by excessive speculation, and that a sound economy rests on productive labor and earned wages. By this reckoning, artists in a market economy are speculators in their own work, hoping for windfall profits that may or may not materialize. “The number who attempt to become artists have no discernable ratio to the demand for art,” explained Forbes Watson, an advisor to the Public Works of Art Project. Paying artists a steady wage would transform them from gamblers into honest professionals. “It may sound dull and bourgeois to remove the artist from the high plane of romantic finances…down to the lower work-a-day plane,” Watson averred. “On the contrary, knowing what is going to happen to him materially [frees] his imagination.”


Implicit in all the arts programs established by the Roosevelt administration was the belief that art is integral to a functioning democratic society and therefore an appropriate target for government intervention. Holger Cahill, who ran the WPA’s Federal Art Project, heralded a welcome return to the “tradition of art patronage which existed during the Renaissance and Middle Ages.” Cahill, Watson and their government colleagues recognized not only that the capitalist art market had failed, but that it fostered an unhealthy distance between artists and the general public. Artists would be reintegrated into the social fabric through the government’s employment initiatives, and public appreciation of art would be furthered through local arts centers and other educational programs. Bringing the artist “into…closer touch with his community,” Watson said, would “result in a…deeper interpretation of American life in art.” Art should be judged by its “serviceability to the community.” Davis concurred. “Art values,” he said, “are social values.” By mutual agreement, artists of the left and their WPA sponsors favored accessible art forms such as murals and prints over easel painting.


In the early 1930s, the Comintern had lambasted the New Deal as a fascistic attempt to save capitalism, but this rhetoric softened after the inauguration of the Popular Front. Acknowledging the New Deal’s success with American voters, the Communist Party changed the name of its U.S. initiative to “Democratic Front” in 1937. “Communism,” declared Earl Browder, leader of the CPUSA, “is twentieth-century Americanism.” “Now you could be for every kind of social reform,” writes the historian Daniel Aaron, “for everything and anything that was at one time radical, rebellious, subversive, revolutionary and downright quixotic—and in so doing you were on the side of all the political angels of the day; you were on the side of the Roosevelt administration, on the side of Labor, the Negroes, the middle classes; on the side of Hitler’s victims, on the side of all the oppressed colonial peoples in the world. In short, this is the only period in all the world’s history when you could be at one and the same time an ardent revolutionary and an arch-conservative, backed by the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union.”


Artists associated with the American Artists’ Congress, the Artists’ Union and other front organizations were fully integrated into the mainstream American art scene in the 1930s. Members of the John Reed Club showed in all the early Whitney Biennials, and Davis was asked to write an introduction to the catalogue for that museum’s 1935 exhibition, “Abstract Painting in America.” Evergood, Gropper, Shahn and Soyer received mural commissions from the Treasury Section of Fine Arts, the most conservative of the federal government’s patronage initiatives. The Artist’s Congress staged its exhibitions not only at the downtown ACA Galleries, but at such bastions of free enterprise as Rockefeller Center and Wanamaker’s department store. In 1932, the Museum of Modern Art opened its first building on West 53rd Street with a show of mural painting that, over the objections of several trustees, included scathing indictments of American capitalism by Gellert, Gropper and Shahn. The conflicts that periodically erupted between left-wing artists and their Depression-era patrons—such as the censorship and eventual destruction of Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural—are legendary. More surprising, however, is that Nelson Rockefeller would commission a mural from an avowed Communist in the first place. When asked why she wanted to buy Shahn’s series on the persecution of Sacco and Vanzetti, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (Nelson’s mother) supposedly replied, “Comes the revolution, I can fill the windows with these, and the House of Rockefeller may survive.”


The radicalization of the American art world was not without its critics, nor was Roosevelt’s New Deal uncontroversial. The conservative Art Digest, which favored Regionalism, branded the American Artists’ Congress a “potential tool of the Communist Party.” In 1938, Martin Dies, chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, began attacking the WPA for suspected Communist infiltration. Roosevelt’s progressive allies suffered a significant defeat in the mid-term elections that same year, and support for the government’s art programs subsequently diminished. In 1940, as the nation began preparing for war, Cahill suggested that the Federal Arts Project redirect its energies to decorating military bases and designing propaganda posters. The Arts Project limped on in this mode until 1943, when it was shut down along with the rest of the WPA.


In the later 1930s, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile the Popular Front’s tolerant democratic rhetoric with Stalin’s harsh tactics. Loyalists (including Davis, Evergood, Gellert, Gropper, Lozowick and Soyer) stood by Stalin through the Moscow trials of 1936-38, which purged the leader’s ideological rivals. But as the decade wore on, Communism no longer seemed a credible bulwark against war or fascism. First came Stalin’s 1939 non-aggression pact with Hitler, and then, a few months later, the Soviet Union invaded Finland. The American Artists’ Congress was divided on both issues, with Lynd Ward backing unconditional support of the U.S.S.R. and American neutrality in the war with Germany. After Ward’s faction prevailed, Davis and other key members resigned from the group. The Artists’ Congress was still condemning the European war as a “brutal shameless struggle” when, in June 1941, Germany attacked Russia. Now the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were on the same side, but the unity of the American left had been irreparably broken.


Many of the issues that united left-wing artists during the Depression ceased to be of relevance after World War II. The demise of the government’s prewar patronage programs returned control of artistic production to the capitalist marketplace. Under these circumstances, it seemed ridiculous for artists to identify with other manual laborers, and easel painting once again took precedence over more accessible forms like murals. Most devastating to the American left was the government’s aggressive hunt for alleged Communists, which escalated with the Cold War. Artists who had perhaps drifted into, and then out of, the Communist Party, who had been loosely affiliated sympathizers or just members of the broadly inclusive American Artists’ Congress were all suspect. Herman Baron, founder of the ACA Galleries, Evergood, Gropper and Shahn were among the many called before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Republican Congressman George Dondero, who was especially fixated on art, labeled the ACA Galleries “the hub…of Marxists in art,” which should be “shunned like a plague center of infection.” The mainstream museums that had supported left-wing artists in the 1930s and ‘40s quietly dropped them from their programs. Gropper, once a regular at the Whitney, noted that after being blacklisted, he was “completely ignored” by the museum. Baron accused the Museum of Modern Art of kowtowing to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist demagoguery by shifting its focus almost exclusively to nonobjective art. MoMA’s exhibition priorities demonstrated, in Baron’s view, that, “McCarthyism is no more an epithet but a basic policy of the governing circles of the United States and that...artists in particular…have been placed on notice that painting might prove a [covert] act unless it happens to conform.”


Although there is some truth to Baron’s accusations, the actual situation was more complicated. The postwar American art world was shaped by two Depression-era idiosyncrasies: a belief that art is a matter of government concern and an obsession with theoretical prescriptions. It was generally assumed that, as an emergent superpower, the United States would assume global leadership not just politically and economically, but culturally as well. During the immediate postwar period, America’s artistic achievements were widely promoted abroad, overtly by U.S. Information Agency (an arm of the State Department), and covertly by the C.I.A. Inevitability, this attempt to establish international cultural hegemony was colored by the Cold War’s political agenda. “We wanted to unite all the people who were artists,” recalled Tom Braden, head of the C.I.A.’s cultural arm in the 1950s, “to demonstrate that the West and the United States was [sic] devoted to freedom of expression.”


The aesthetic ideology that drove postwar American art derived from earlier Marxist debates about form and content. In his seminal 1939 essay, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” the Trotskyist critic Clement Greenberg had come down firmly on the side of form. Culture, he said, was under siege by the commercial forces of late capitalism, and the only solution was for artists to retreat from the social sphere. Greenberg’s formalist mandate, which dovetailed neatly with the narrative that Alfred Barr was crafting at the Museum of Modern Art, would in the 1950s be used to justify the historical inevitability of Abstract Expressionism. Due to its lack of apparent content, Abstract Expressionism also proved ideally suited to America’s propaganda needs. “I’d love to be able to say the C.I.A. invented it all,” joked a former agency employee. “In [their] politically shrewd reaction against politics,” observed the critic Harold Rosenberg, “the new painters and their supporters had become fully engaged in the issues of the day.” They made “the political choice of giving up politics.”


The advent of Abstract Expressionism and the McCarthy witch-hunts did not eliminate left-wing political art overnight. For one thing, most Americans still preferred realism to abstraction. And there were many active collectors in the 1950s and ‘60s—including such unlikely capitalists as Joseph Hirshhorn and Roy Neuberger—whose tastes had been conditioned by New Deal sensibilities. Shahn enjoyed his greatest professional success in the 1950s, not just as an exhibiting artist but as a sought-after lecturer and illustrator. Slightly younger artists, like Jack Levine and Leonard Baskin, carried on the tradition of socially conscious representational art. Levine was given a retrospective by the Whitney Museum in 1955, and Baskin was included in MoMA’s 1959 exhibition “New Images of Man,” one of the few attempts to construct a humanist counter-narrative to the art world’s by-then dominant formalist ethos. Many left-wing artists, in fact, continued to enjoy considerable popularity, but they were increasingly shunned by the elite and ultimately relegated to footnote status in most histories of twentieth-century American art.


Postwar formalism entailed a pronounced contempt for the democratization processes that had previously preoccupied the art world. Greenberg wrote off the masses as “more or less indifferent to culture.” Bypassing the art establishment, Shahn, Baskin and more recently Sue Coe engaged a broad public directly through prints, books and illustrations, but it didn’t matter, because that public didn’t matter. And yet, as Coe makes clear in her vast body of work, the inequities produced by unrestrained capitalism are as socially destructive today as they were in the 1930s. The problems of poverty, unemployment, political corruption and racism remain unsolved. What most Americans, including nominal Communists and fellow travelers, wanted during the Depression is what most Americans still want and need: the fulfillment of the democratic promise, equality of opportunity and justice for all.


Most of the artists in the current exhibition have not historically been represented by the Galerie St. Etienne. However, the gallery has always specialized in socially oriented art. The politicization of the early twentieth-century German art scene, as exemplified by Otto Dix, George Grosz and Käthe Kollwitz, forms a backdrop for American artistic developments in the 1930s. Leonard Baskin and Sue Coe extend these same impulses to the present time. Although the American establishment rejected political art in the latter part of the twentieth century, some collectors and dealers remained devoted to the genre. We would like to thank the lenders and advisors whose generous assistance made this exhibition possible: Jeffrey and Dorian Bergen (ACA Galleries), Merrill Berman, Raina Blankenhorn, Robert and Cheryl Fishko (Forum Gallery), Debra Force, Bernard Goldberg, Hirschl and Adler Galleries, the Estate of Alice Neel, Mary Ryan, Jonathan and Jean Shahn, the Estate of Raphael Soyer, Susan Teller and David Zwirner. The Galerie St. Etienne’s exhibition coordinator, Christina Roman, also provided invaluable contributions to the project. Checklist entries are accompanied by their catalogue raisonné numbers, where applicable. Image dimensions are given for prints, full dimensions for all other works.