Friday, March 30, 2018

Christie’s Old Masters auction on April 19, 2018

Christie’s is honored to present for sale Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, called John Frederick the Magnanimous, once part of Fritz Gutmann’s renowned art collection in the pre-war Netherlands. Missing for nearly 80 years before its recent rediscovery in America, Christie’s is privileged to have facilitated the return of this important work to the Gutmann family. Cranach’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony will be presented in public exhibitions in Hong Kong (March 30 – April 4) and New York leading up to the Old Masters auction on April 19, 2018 in Christie’s Rockefeller Galleries with an estimate of $1,000,000-2,000,000.


Lucas Cranach I (Kronach 1472-1553 Weimar)
Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony (1503-1554), half-length,
oil on panel, 24.3/4 x 15.5/8 in. (62.8 x 39.7 cm.)
Estimate: $1,000,000-2,000,000

Cranach’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony had occupied pride of place in the Gutmann family estate ‘Bosbeek’ in Heemstede, Netherlands. It was last publicly displayed in Rotterdam in 1938, on loan from Fritz Gutmann to the Museum Boymans.

Following the rise of Nazism and then the Occupation of The Netherlands in May 1940, the Gutmann collection was a particular focus of interest for the Nazi high command and their agents. The Gutmann collection was comprehensively looted (confiscated and forcibly ‘sold’ during the war), with many works acquired for Hitler and Goering. The family’s possessions were scattered and tragically Fritz and his wife Louise were murdered in the concentration camps of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz respectively.

While the exact path of this painting after 1940 is unknown, the quest to trace and recover it has been a cherished hope for two generations of Gutmann heirs.  Simon Goodman, grandson of Fritz, has dedicated many years to researching the lost collection, successfully reclaiming many works for his family.  He continues to seek a number of significant Old Master and Impressionist paintings.  Simon has written of his experiences in his acclaimed book The Orpheus Clock: the search for my family’s art treasures stolen by the Nazis.


Following an approach by persons in possession of the work, who acknowledged and addressed the losses suffered by the family at the hands of the Nazis, Christie’s facilitated a return to the Gutmann heirs. The return of the painting honors international initiatives to address the ongoing challenge of Holocaust-era assets.

Simon Goodman, owner of Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony said, “I have spent years hunting for this marvelous painting. Among those pieces still missing, from my grandfather Fritz Gutmann’s collection, this was the piece I was the most doubtful of ever recovering. My family are thrilled by its discovery. We are also extremely grateful to the people who brought it forward and to Christie’s for facilitating its return.”

Francois de Poortere, Head of Old Master Paintings, remarked: “Moments like this are what continues to make our job fascinating and exciting. It has been extraordinary to witness the discovery of this important work by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and work with the exemplary people who brought it to our attention and wanted to do the right thing and reunite the painting with its rightful owners. This remarkable survival continues to celebrate Cranach’s innovation and unique work, and reacquaints us with a painting previously known only from black and white photographs.”

Monica Dugot, International Director of Restitution, commented, “It is a great privilege for us to have reconnected the heirs of Fritz Gutmann to this important picture missing from their collection for close to 80 years. We are thrilled to have finally brought this marvelous Cranach to light and delighted that we were able to facilitate a dialogue between the most recent owners and the Gutmann family that ultimately ended in this settlement. Importantly, we hope that the reappearance of this painting demonstrates that with good will, perseverance and collaboration, amicable and fair solutions can be found in resolving complex restitution cases and losses due to Nazi persecution, even after so many years.”


The portrait, painted in the 1530s, depicts John Frederick I (1503-1554), known as John Frederick the Magnanimous, an electoral prince and Head of the Schmalkaldic League of Germany, clad in splendorous attire. The last Elector in the Ernestine Saxon line, John Frederick was an ardent supporter of Martin Luther and the Reformation and is considered one of the founders of the University of Wittenberg. He married Sibylle of Cleves in September 1526, who Cranach equally portrayed on numerous occasions. Cranach paints John Frederick half-length, set against a dark background. The Elector wears four gold chains with a pendant in the shape of a dolphin around his neck. His fashionably slashed doublet is decorated with three gold collars set with pearls and precious stones forming the letter “S”. He wears a signet ring on his left index finger and is crowned with a garland of enameled flowers. The painting is one of Cranach’s most refined portrayals of the Elector John Frederick, who at the time it was painted was the artist’s greatest patron and close friend.

Domenico Gargiulo’s Adoration of the Shepherds

Domenico Gargiulo, called Micco Spadaro (Naples 1612-1679), The Adoration of the Shepherds. Oil on canvas. 29⅞ x 40 in (75.7 x 101.4 cm). Estimate $100,000-150,000. This work is offered in Old Masters Part I on 19 April at Christie’s in New York
Domenico Gargiulo, called Micco Spadaro (Naples 1612-1679), The Adoration of the Shepherds. Oil on canvas. 29⅞ x 40 in (75.7 x 101.4 cm). Estimate: $100,000-150,000. This work is offered in Old Masters Part I on 19 April at Christie’s in New York
Louisa Howard, Junior Specialist, Old Master Paintings: ‘I love Domenico Gargiulo’s Adoration of the Shepherds. It probably dates to the first half of the 1650s and conveys the artist’s realistic approach to the world of agriculture during this period.

‘His observation of surfaces is intensely naturalistic, and yet combined here with an extraordinary brilliance of palette, and a refined virtuosity of brushwork. The landscape beneath the arch is particularly fresh and spontaneous, and draws inspiration from the rocky hillsides and crumbling ruins captured during the course of Gargiulo’s youthful sketching expeditions around Naples.’

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Robert Frank prints

Hamiltons Gallery
28 March - 11 May 2018

Hamiltons presents a selection of exceptional and rarely seen Robert Frank prints, including pictures from Frank’s seminal visit in 1953 to a coal-mining village in Wales, along with a selection of prints from his sojourns in London, Paris and America taken during the 1950s and early 60s. Frank’s endeavour to establish a new form of poetic, narrative photography is a common thread throughout these images.

Read "Robert Frank: The Man Who Saw America" published in the New York Times in Summer 2015, written by Nicholas Dawidoff:

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Considered one of the most influential figures in the history of photography – it was Jack Kerouc who first defined Frank as a genius – Frank found fame in the early 1960s with his ground-breaking book The Americans. The series offers a profound insight into the country’s cultural and social conditions and, despite initially perplexing critics due to its unorthodox style, soon became and still remains widely regarded as a pivotal work in 20th century art history.

<p><span>Tusuque, N.M., 1955, printed 1978 </span></p><p><span>© Robert Frank</span></p>

Tusuque, N.M., 1955, printed 1978
© Robert Frank

Its origins can be traced to Frank’s time spent in Paris, and his visit to England and Wales in the 1950s. In Paris, where Frank spent two years in 1949 – 1950, he captured the city’s beauty, viewing its streets as a stage for human activity. As seen in this exhibition, these photographs of Paris taken during that time focus on lonesome, romantic places and people in the city, in particular on the flower sellers. In London, Frank photographed labourers and bankers alike, capturing the city’s spirit following World War II. On one level Frank’s view of London is gloomy, portraying lonely individuals emerging from the nightmare of their recent history, each alienated as they pass people of a different social class. However, his outlook is tempered by capturing the hopeful faces of the children living there. Frank’s camera becomes an extension of his eye, depicting individuals each with their own stories to tell.

<p>London, 1951</p><p>© Robert Frank</p>

London, 1951
© Robert Frank
In March 1953, inspired by Richard Llewelyn’s poignant 1939 novel How Green Was My Valley, Frank’s exploration of coal-stained Caerau in South Wales began. Wales at the time was isolated from Britain’s financial centre, with a different language and culture and for the most part inhabited by people who had lived there all their lives. Frank sought an isolated community with complex cultural traditions and a history of self–determination, and he found it in this small town where many people lived in impoverished conditions. Frank chose to create a photographic story focused on 53-year-old Ben James, who had worked as a miner since the age of 14, and lived with his family in a house with no running water. Frank was there at the start of a time of transition in the lives of the miners, when the rebuilding of the economy after the Second World War meant mines were being modernised and working conditions were to slowly improve. With permission from the Coal Board and the men themselves to follow and document their daily lives, Frank created a narrative story about James and his family that could be organised as a day in the miner’s life. The emotional complexity with which he treated his subject set a precedent for Frank’s later work, when he would go on to treat all his subjects with a similar poetic sensibility. When the photographs of James were first published in the 1955 issue of U.S. Camera Annual, Frank confessed “I could have followed a livelier and perhaps more colourful Welsh miner but I’m happy I decided to portray Ben James. When I said farewell to him I realised that no future story on any Welsh miner will look as this one does. I’m sure the new generation is essentially the same but I wonder if not having such hardships will make it easier for them.” Having set out to document the miners’ lives during this transitional period, Frank had ended up revealing their humanity from within. Unlike much of the work that picture magazines were publishing at the time, Frank’s documentation of Wales expressed more emotion and delved deeper into people’s inner lives, effectively breaking the rules of documentary photography at the time.

On 27 May 1953, just two months after Frank returned from Wales to USA, Edward Steichen’s Postwar European Photography exhibition opened at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and 22 of Frank’s photographs were shown, most taken in London and Wales. The images of bankers, beggars and miners filled one large wall, floor to ceiling. Within a matter of months, many of the same subjects would capture Frank’s attention in America and he would use the same methods he had refined and developed in Paris, London and Wales in the 1950s. Described by Lou Reed as “the great democratic”, Frank’s search for equality in Wales set the tone for the seminal pictures that became The Americans.

Robert Frank was born in 1924 in Zurich, Switzerland. From 1941 Frank embarked on a series of apprenticeships as a photographer’s assistant in his home country. Moving to New York in 1947, Frank was soon hired by Alexey Brodovtich as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, which bought with it opportunity to travel. The United States made such an impression on Frank that, after receiving his first Guggenheim Fellowship in 1955, Frank embarked on his two-year trip across America. In 1959 Frank began making films and in 1972, documented the Rolling Stones on tour which is today probably his most well know film. Frank’s photography and films have been the subject of exhibitions worldwide since Edward Steichen first included Frank’s photographs in the 1950 group show 51 American Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Frank was given his first solo show by the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961 and others soon followed. More recent exhibitions include “Robert Frank: Storylines” at Tate Modern, London in 2004, “Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans” which opened at National Gallery of Art, Washington in 2009 and then travelled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Frank has received many honours and his work is now held in numerous collections worldwide including Art Institute of Chicago; Maison European de la Photographie, Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Tate Modern, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 1990 the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., established the Robert Frank Collection. Numerous monographs of Frank’s work exist, including The Americans (1958, 1959), New York to Nova Scotia (1986), London/Wales (2003), to name a few. Robert Frank now lives in New York City.

Drawing The Line Realism and Abstraction in Expressionist Art: Beckmann,Dix,Grosz,Kirchner.Nolde,Schiele

March 20, 2018 - July 6, 2018


Beckmann, Max
Dix, Otto
Feininger, Lyonel
Gerstl, Richard
Grosz, George
Heckel, Erich
Kandinsky, Wassily
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig
Klee, Paul
Kokoschka, Oskar
Kubin, Alfred
Macke, August
Marc, Franz
Mueller, Otto
Nolde, Emil
Pechstein, Hermann Max
Schiele, Egon
Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl

Galerie St. Etienne exhibition essay

Realism and abstraction are frequently cast as opposing forces in modernism’s developmental narrative. For reasons that had to do less with art-historical inevitably than with geopolitics, abstraction was declared victorious in the United States after World War II. Reflecting wartime alliances, American abstraction traced its lineage to France, while the Germanic tradition of figural Expressionism was largely sidelined. To the extent that Germany’s contributions to modernism were acknowledged, Munich’s Blaue Reiter group, which experimented most overtly with abstraction, received greater attention than the comparatively representational work of artists based elsewhere in German-speaking Europe. Wassily Kandinsky’s esoteric theories, endorsed by Galka Scheyer on the West Coast and Hilla Rebay at the fledgling Guggenheim Museum (originally the Museum of Non-Objective Painting) in New York, seemed to affirm the formalist dogma that dominated the American art world in the third quarter of the twentieth century.

However, neither Kandinsky nor his Expressionist colleagues in Germany and Austria believed that art should be free of all extrinsic content, or as the critic Clement Greenberg put it, that an artist should be concerned solely with the “arrangement of spaces, surfaces, shapes, colors, etc., to the exclusion of whatever is not necessarily implicated in these factors.” In the Blaue Reiter Almanac, Kandinsky described two fundamental formal approaches, “the great realism” and “the great abstraction,” both of which, he said, ultimately serve the same end: to express “the inner resonance of the thing.” The German critic Paul Fechter, who authored the first book on the subject in 1914, similarly identified two strands of Expressionism: the “extensive,” which retains ties to recognizable subject matter, and the “intensive,” which entirely renounces such imagery. Whether realist or abstract in their orientation, Expressionists were driven by a need to re-envision the world.

Germany and Austria industrialized relatively late and, unlike England and France, had failed to establish effective democratic institutions to channel the concomitant social upheaval. Artists coming of age in German-speaking Europe at the dawn of the twentieth century objected equally to the rigidity of the old aristocratic order and to the materialism associated with bourgeois capitalism.

Inspired by the Nietzschean ideal of human perfectibility, the North-German Brücke group hoped to build a “bridge” to a better future by uniting “the entire younger generation” in opposition to “entrenched and established tendencies.” For the most part, first-generation Expressionists eschewed political solutions, instead focusing on spiritual self-improvement. “When religion, science and morals…are in danger of failing,” Kandinsky observed, “man turns his eyes away from the exterior world, onto himself.” At the same time, many Expressionists sought a connection to universal forces beyond the self, situated in nature, the infinite or the occult.

Although Germany’s component principalities made remarkable contributions to the fields of music, literature and philosophy prior to national unification in 1871, the territory as a whole had historically ceded artistic leadership to France. The chain of “isms” emanating from the French capital—Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, “Primitivism”—continued to inform Germanic modernism, but the German responses were nonetheless distinct. Whereas French artists tended to deconstruct their subjects aesthetically, the Expressionists attacked them metaphysically.

The French (with the notable exception of Paul Gauguin) responded to “Primitivism” in largely formal terms, while German artists sought an Edenic ideal in cultures untouched by the forces of modern civilization. Symbolism—a multinational movement that attempted to find objective visual correlatives for subjective states—had a far more profound impact in German-speaking Europe than in France.

Germans and Austrians proved especially receptive to fin-de-siècle ideas that revealed, or purported to reveal, the truth behind surface appearances. Kandinsky equated the discovery of subatomic particles with the literal dissolution of matter. X-rays, which make it possible to see through solid objects, came to be associated with clairvoyance. The physicist Ernst Mach contended that there is no real difference “between bodies and sensations . . . between what is without and what is within, between the material world and the spiritual world.”

Enormously popular in German-speaking Europe, Theosophy posited that the “astral plane” could be accessed through a “subtle invisible essence or fluid” that radiates from all living beings. Artists were encouraged, by such contemporary thinkers as Joséphin Péladan, Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach and Stanislaw Przbyszewski, to consider themselves “seers,” possessed of a vision that was spiritual as well as artistic.

Accordingly, the Expressionists transformed color, line and composition into vehicles for exploring the mystical, emotional or psychological underpinnings of their subjects. Urfarben (the “source colors” of the rainbow), which had been used by the Neo-Impressionists to replicate optical effects, lost their connection to observable reality. Not only are these colors purer and brighter than intermediate mixed hues, but they carry greater emotional weight, especially when clashing complementaries are juxtaposed.

“Color,” wrote Kandinsky, “is a means to exercise a direct influence on the soul.” In his 1810 book, Zur Farbenlehre (On the Lessons of Color), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had proposed a vocabulary of symbolic color equivalencies: red was associated with beauty, orange with nobility, yellow with goodness, green with utility, blue with mediocrity and so on. The Theosophists also believed in mystical color associations, though theirs were somewhat different. (Blue, for example, connoted purity of thought.) Clairvoyants could ostensibly see these colors emanating from human bodies as “auras” and “thought forms”—phenomena painted variously by Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.

Like color, Expressionist line did not adhere to the strict requirements of realistic verisimilitude. Japanese woodblock prints and Jugendstil graphic design, both of which jettisoned three-dimensional interior modeling in favor of evocative contours, were decisive influences. The woodcuts of Gauguin and Edvard Munch, caricatures from the satirical magazine Simplicissimus, Medieval religious imagery and tribal carvings added an element of exaggeration to the mix. German and Austrian artists saw line as an expressive tool in its own right. Many of them employed jagged, angular or broken lines and bizarre striations for emotional effect. Some aimed for concision and economy of means, while others retraced outlines repeatedly to arrive at a quintessential form.

Drawing the moving figure was a practice common among the Brücke artists in Dresden, as well as Schiele and Kokoschka in Vienna. These men all sought to capture spontaneous visual responses, what Ernst Ludwig Kirchner called “the ecstasy of first sight.” Kandinsky, on the other hand, developed a more cerebral language of symbolic lines.

Whether approached in aesthetic or metaphysical terms, line constituted a crucial boundary between figure and ground, subject and surrounding cosmos. From Gothic woodcuts to Jugendstil design, many of the sources that influenced the Expressionists treated positive and negative space equally. The resultant two-dimensional flattening of the picture plane was especially well suited to landscapes, whose components (buildings, sky, trees, mountains, etc.) can readily be reduced to abstract shapes.

By visually uniting these elements, artists conveyed a sense of mystical harmony with and within the natural or human-built environment. Lyonel Feininger and Schiele each interpreted (or misinterpreted) Cubism in this vein. Kandinsky, who between 1910 and 1913 gradually relinquished representational subject matter altogether, equated the picture plane with infinity or utopia. Fragmentation of form could be used by artists with a more figural bent to suggest the immateriality of the soul and the fusion of the body with the spirit realm.

But there is a limit to how much the human figure can be abstracted and still remain, well, human. The contrast between artistic representations of “real” people and the two-dimensional surfaces upon which they “lived” was more likely to evoke alienation than harmony. For some Expressionists, the line dividing figure from ground, physical from spiritual, was an impermeable barrier that only served to highlight the fragility of the self in the face of a surrounding existential void.

Despite certain broad affinities among its artists, Expressionism was not a coherent style in the manner of Impressionism or Cubism. German-speaking Europe had multiple cultural centers, essentially revolving around its different art academies. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, a number of Secession initiatives arose to counter the dominance of those academies. The Secessions did not espouse specific stylistic programs, but rather sought to provide exhibition outlets for the rising avant-garde and to foster international cultural exchange. Collectively, their aim might be summed up by the motto of the Vienna Secession: “To the age its art; to art its freedom.”

As a younger generation came to the fore in the twentieth century, the Secessions foundered. Nevertheless, they bequeathed to their Expressionist successors a mandate to pursue the Kunstwollen—artistic aims—of the time on their own individual terms. Artists, dispersed among the preexisting academic centers in such cities as Dresden, Berlin, Munich and Vienna, took up the challenge in disparate ways.

Die Brücke, established in Dresden in 1905, was the first and, initially, the most cohesive Expressionist group. Its founding members, Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Fritz Bleyl, were former architecture students at the Dresden Technical Institute, and though the curriculum there covered drawing, only Kirchner, who spent one semester at a progressive studio school in Munich, had any dedicated fine arts training. Kirchner brought back from Bavaria an appreciation for Jugendstil graphics and Gothic woodcuts, as well as an interest in primeval cultures, which was soon affirmed by the Oceanic and African art in the Dresden ethnographic museum. This yearning for the “primitive” would take Emil Nolde and Max Pechstein (both of whom joined Die Brücke in 1906) to the South Seas in 1913-14, and Otto Mueller (a member from 1910-13) to the Balkans in the 1920s.

At first the Brücke artists attempted to create a refuge from modern civilization in their own backyard. Working communally in a storefront studio, they endeavored (in Kirchner’s words) “to bring art and life into harmony with one another.” During the warmer months, they decamped to the countryside, where they pursued a shared resolve to “study the nude in free naturalness.”

Printmaking was central to the Brücke initiative, both in forging a collective identity and in soliciting financial support from “passive members,” who were rewarded with an annual print portfolio. Woodcut, with its melding of Medieval and contemporary influences, its stark contrasts and exaggerated forms, is the graphic technique most often associated with Die Brücke. But the artists were equally innovative in their etchings and lithographs, transforming what had been essentially reproductive techniques into original expressive vehicles.

 The group ethos disintegrated after 1911, when Heckel, Kirchner and Schmidt-Rottluff decided to join Mueller and Pechstein in Berlin. Leadership conflicts caused Die Brücke formally to disband in 1913.

While Germans at the turn of the twentieth century were struggling to cement a national identity, Austria-Hungary was being torn apart by ethnic, economic and political tensions across its far-flung empire. There was little unity among the Austrian Expressionists, little of the utopianism that marked the Germans’ quest for radical transformation. Brücke artists tried to subordinate themselves to a communal ideal; Austrians were more concerned with redefining the self in the face of intellectual challenges by such contemporaries as Mach and Sigmund Freud. Kokoschka, who claimed to have “x-ray vision,” aspired to extract the souls of his subjects from their external physical shells. Schiele probed his own persona incessantly, testing the boundary between pretense and essence. In his oils, Schiele continued a tradition of Symbolist allegory that owed much to the example of Gustav Klimt. Mortality and human frailty were recurring themes for both artists.

The Jugendstil-inflected work of Klimt and the Wiener Werkstätte strongly influenced Kokoschka and Schiele during their student years, but by 1910 each had emerged with a distinctive Expressionistic idiom. Kokoschka’s raw, painterly style derived from artifacts he had seen in Vienna’s ethnographic museum. Schiele, on the other hand, retained a propensity for elegant lines and structured compositions that can be attributed to his more conventional academic training and to Klimt’s lingering impact. From 1910 on, Kokoschka spent considerable stretches of time in Germany, where he made contact with members of Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter. Appropriating the heavier impastos and bolder colors of those colleagues, he hereafter was frequently classified as a “German” Expressionist. Although Schiele also exhibited in Germany, he had little success there. Both geographically and artistically, he remained isolated in the Austrian environment. Austria’s third great Expressionist, Richard Gerstl, who committed suicide in 1908, was totally unknown until his rediscovery in 1931. Independently working his way through the formal and tonal lessons of Neo-Impressionism, Gerstl arrived at the first iteration of what was later called “Abstract Expressionism.”

Less disjointed than the Austrian Expressionists, but more informal that the Brücke group, Der Blaue Reiter was an alliance of international artists who exhibited together in Germany between 1911 and 1913. Because this period coincided with the publication of Kandinsky’s most famous theoretical writings, in the Blaue Reiter Almanac and On the Spiritual in Art, his ideas came to be associated with artists whose styles were actually quite diverse. Kandinsky had moved to Munich in 1896, along with two other Russian artists, Alexei Jawlensky and Marianne Werefkin. Soon Kandinsky assumed a leadership position, founding the Phalanx group and school in 1901, and in 1909, the Neue Künstlervereinigung (New Artists’ Association), an alternative to the increasingly conservative Munich Secession. In addition to the three Russians and Gabriele Münter (a former Phalanx student), the NKV pulled into its orbit Feininger, Alfred Kubin, Paul Klee, August Macke and Franz Marc—all of whom later showed with Der Blaue Reiter.

During the years of their association, the Blaue Reiter artists, each in his or her own way, explored the distinction between what Kandinsky called the “great realism” and the “great abstraction.” “Primitivism” (here incorporating not just tribal art, but domestic folk art, the work of self-taught painters like Henri Rousseau, children’s art and, for Klee and Kubin, the art of the mentally ill) represented the “great realism”: art without artifice. By emulating untrained creators, Blaue Reiter artists hoped to recapture a primordial innocence that would enable them to reveal their subjects’ “inner truths.” Marc’s search for an unspoiled, “natural” state of consciousness prompted him to identify with nonhuman animals and to try to depict the world through their eyes.

The path to the “great abstraction” lay beyond nature, in the realm of pure imagination. Kandinsky was looking for a visual equivalent to music; an art that would be free of any representational associations. “In color,” Macke declared, “there is counterpoint, violin, ground bass, minor, major, as in music.” Klee and Feininger, both trained as violinists, tried to imbue their art with the emotional immediacy of music. Nonetheless, neither they nor Kubin, Münter, Jawlensky or Werefkin ever entirely gave up recognizable imagery. Even Kandinsky, slow to digest his own philosophical pronouncements, was still painting landscape forms as late as 1913. He worried that a completely abstract artwork might too easily be confused with a “necktie or a carpet” pattern—confounding the essential link to the spiritual. Macke and Marc were the only other Blaue Reiter artists to break through, albeit tentatively, to abstraction. When they perished in World War I, Kandinsky became the sole surviving non-objective painter among the first-generation Expressionists.

The Expressionists’ search for spiritual authenticity was an implicit protest against capitalistic materialism. Nevertheless, after the carnage of World War I and the political turmoil that followed, their approach appeared hopelessly bourgeois. Prewar utopianism was superseded by the practical necessity of dealing with the socioeconomic problems of the Weimar era. Denounced as self-indulgent and incomprehensible, abstraction was deemed incapable of addressing these new realities. The artists who came of age in Germany after 1918, however, readily adopted the more realistic innovations of their prewar predecessors.

There was, in fact, considerable stylistic continuity between the first- and second-generation Expressionists. Fragmented images, erratic lines and crazed croppings were ideally suited to Otto Dix’s on-the-spot renderings of trench warfare. These same tropes were subsequently used by Max Beckmann to convey the sense of dislocation and unease endemic to Weimar society. Expressive exaggeration, verging on caricature in the case of Dix and George Grosz, was a perfect way to critique contemporary decadence. Often the compositions of all three artists are packed with detail, compressed into a claustrophobic, flattened space. At other times, isolated figures are presented as icons of alienation. By means of these formal devices, each artist was able to transform his subjective experiences into an emotionally compelling commentary on the human condition. Expressionism’s most significant legacy lies in the creation of a pictorial language that amalgamates abstract elements with references to the visible world.

All Photos courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York:

 MAX BECKMANN (German, 1884-1950)

1. Dinner Party
Circa 1919. Woodcut on thin cream laid Japan paper. Signed, lower right, and inscribed "Probedruck" (trial proof), lower left. 12" x 4" (30.2 x 10 cm). One of six documented trial proofs; probably hand-printed by the artist. Hofmaier 158/A.

2. The Tall Man
1921. Etching on cream wove paper, worked over in ink. Signed and dated, lower right, and inscribed "Luftschaukel (Handprobedruck)" (Air-Swing [hand-pulled proof]), lower left. 12" x 8 1/8" (30.5 x 20.6 cm). Plate 5 from the cycle The Annual Fair. Unique proof of the first state, hand-printed and extensively worked over by the artist in anticipation of additions and alterations to the plate in the second state. Hofmaier 195/I.

3. Merry-Go-Round
1921. Drypoing on laid Japan paper. Signed and with Marées Gesellschaft chop, lower right. 20 7/8" x 15" (53 x 38.1 cm). Plate 7 from the cycle The Annual Fair. From the edition of 75 impressions on this paper. Hofmaier 197/IIBa.

4. Portrait of Irma Simon
1924. Oil on canvas. Signed and dated, upper right. 48" x 23 5/8" (122 x 60 cm). Göpel 235.

5. Reclining Woman
1945. Pen, ink and pencil on watermarked laid paper. Signed, dated and inscribed "A," lower right. 13" x 14 1/8" (33 x 35.9 cm). Study for Afternoon (Göpel 724).

OTTO DIX (German, 1891-1969)

6. Madonna
1914. Watercolor, gouahce, ink and pencil on thin off-white wove paper. Signed and dated, lower right; titled and inscribed "Z. 3081," lower center. 19 5/8" x 16 7/8" (49.8 x 42.9 cm). Pfäffle A/G 1914/2.

7. Trench with House
1915. Pencil on off-white watermarked laid paper. Signed, lower right. 11 3/8" x 8 1/4" (28.9 x 21 cm). Lorenz WK 5.3.19.

8. Grenade Crater in a House
1916. Pencil on heavy tan wove paper. Signed, lower right. 11 1/4" x 11 1/4" (28.6 x 28.6 cm). Lorenz WK 5.3.24.

9. Soldier
Circa 1917. Black chalk on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, upper right. 16" x 5 1/2" (40.6 x 39.4 cm). Lorenz WK 6.4.27.

10. Apotheosis
1919. Woodcut on off-white wove paper. Signed and titled, lower right; inscribed "Handdruck" (hand-pulled print), lower left. 11 1/8" x 7 7/8" (28.3 x 20 cm). One of a few hand-pulled proofs before the edition of 30 impressions published in 1922. Karsch 30/a.


11. Street Noise
1920. Woodcut on white wove paper. Signed and dated, lower right, and titled, lower center; numbered 25/30, lower left. 19 7/8" x 9 1/4" (50.5 x 23.5 cm). Plate 4 from the portfolio Woodcuts II: 9 Woodcuts. From the edition of 30 impressions. Karsch 26/Bb.

12. Reclining Female Semi-Nude
1929. Red crayon on thin cream wove paper. Signed, upper right. 12 1/4" x 17 5/8" (31.1 x 44.8 cm). Lorenz NSk 12.3.3.

13. The Madam
1923. Color lithograph on beige laid paper. Signed, lower right, and numbered 64/65, lower left. 19" x 14 1/2" (48.3 x 36.8 cm). From the edition of 65 impressions. Karsch 69/II.

14. Mediterranean Sailor
1923. Lithograph on heavy smooth off-white wove paper. Signed, lower right, and numbered 4/55, lower left. 18 1/2" x 12 1/2" (47 x 31.8 cm). From a total edition of 55 impressions. Karsch 59/b.

RICHARD GERSTL (Austrian, 1883-1908)

17. Nude in Garden
1908. Oil on canvas. Estate stamp, verso. 47 5/8" x 39" (121.1 x 99.1 cm). Kallir 48. Private collection.

GEORGE GROSZ (German 1893-1959)

18. Eccentric Dance
1914. Pencil on thin cream laid Velin paper. Titled, lower center. Estate stamp, no. 5-183-6, verso. 11 3/8" x 8 7/8" (29 x 22.5 cm).

19. Reclining Female Nude with Upraised Head
1927. Pencil on heavy tan wove paper. Signed, lower right, and inscribed "III/27," upper right corner. 12 3/8" x 17 3/8" (31.4 x 44.1 cm).

WASSILY KANDINSKY (French (Born Russian), 1866-1944)

29. Archer
1908-09. Colored woodcut on cream watermarked laid paper. Signed, lower rgiht. 6 1/2" x 6" (16.5 x 15.2 cm). Roethel 79. Private collection.

30. Small Worlds
1922. Portfolio of twelve prints (six lithographs, four drypoints, and two woodcuts). Title page dedicated to Ilse and Walter Gropius, lower left. Individual prints signed, lower right. 10 1/2" x 11 7/8" (26.7 x 30 cm). From the edition of 230 portfolios published by Propyläen-Verlag, Berlin, 1922, and printed by the Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar. Private collection.

ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER (German, 1880-1938)
32. Archer in Moritzburg (Erich Heckel)
1909. Pen and ink on brownish paper. Estate stamp and registration numbers, "F Dre/Bf 6," "C 2110" and "K 4901," verso. 17 1/4" x 13" (43.8 x 33 cm). Registered with the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern, Switzerland.

33. Dance Group (Three Dancers)
Circa 1910. Pencil on cream wove paper. Numbered 15, verso. 8 1/4" x 6 1/4" (21 x 15.9 cm). Registered with the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern, Switzerland.

34. Man and Woman Dancing
Circa 1916. Graphite on thin off-white wove paper. 6 3/8" x 7 7/8" (16.2 x 20 cm). Registered with the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Archive, Wichtrach/Bern, Switzerland. Formerly collection Robert Lehman.

35. Fanny in Armchair (Fanny Wocke)
1916. Lithograph on thin yellow wove paper. Signed, lower right, and inscribed "Handdruck" (hand-print), lower left. Titled "Fanny" and with estate stamp and registration number, L450, verso. 23 1/4" x 19 3/4" (59 x 50 cm). One of seven known impressions; hand-printed by the artist. Gercken 813.

36. Making Hay
1924. Drypoint in brown on heavt white wove paper. Signed and numbered "111," lower right; titled and dated, lower center. Estate stamp and registration number, R 489 II, verso. 11 3/4" x 9 7/8" (29.8 x 25.1 cm). One of six known impressions. To be included in Volume VI of Günther Gercken's catalogue raisonné; 1466/II. Dube R. 510.

OSKAR KOKOSCHKA (Austrian, 1886-1980)

38. Wiener Werkstätte Postcards
1906-08. Five color lithographs on heavy card stock. Each 4 7/8" x 3 1/8" (12.1 x 7.9 cm). Published by the Wiener Werkstätte. Wingler/Welz, 3, 4, 14, 15 and 17.

39. The Dreaming Youths
1908. Illustrated book with eight color lithographs and three line engravings. Numbered XII inside back cover. 9 5/8" x 11 3/4" x 3/8" (24.4 x 29.8 x 0.9 cm). One of 275 copies (from a total of 500 printed by the Wiener Werkstäyye in 1908) published in 1917 by Kurt Wolff. Wingler/Welz 22-29.

40. Sleeping Woman in a Deck Shair (Alma Mahler)
1913. Red crayon on thin tan wove paper. Initialed, lower left. 13 5/8" x 8 7/8" (34.6 x 22.5 cm). From a series of drawings of Alma Mahler on a balcony in Naples. Weidinger/Strobl 521.

41. The Last Judgement
1913. Chalk, pen and ink on thin cream tracing paper. Initialed, lower right. 14 3/4" x 11 5/8" (37.5 x 29.5 cm). Study for the lithograph Columbus in Chains (Wingler/Welz 45). Weidinger/Strobl 531.

ALFRED KUBIN (Austrian, 1877-1959)

42. Saint Christopher
Circa 1912-15. Pen and ink on buff laid paper. Signed, lower right, and titled, lower left. 14 1/8" x 10 3/8" (35.9 x 26.3 cm).

43. Witches' Sabbath
1918. Pen and ink on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower rgiht, and titled "Walpurgisnacht," lower left. 10 1/4" x 14 1/8" (26 x 35.9 cm).

AUGUST MACKE (German,1887-1914)

44. Greeting
1922. Linocut on heavy beige wove paper. Bauhaus blindstamp, lower left edge. Inscribed "August Macke: Begrußung" by Elisabeth Macke, verso. 9 5/8" x 8 7/8" (24.4 x 22.5 cm). Plate 8 from the portfolio Bauhaus Prints: New European Graphics, publihed by Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimar, 1921.

FRANZ MARC (German, 1880-1916)

45. Fantastic Creature
1912. Color woodcut on white laid tissue paper. Signed, lower left. 5 3/4" x 8 5/8" (14.6 x 21.9 cm). One of 60 impressions included in the deluxe edition of The Blaue Reiter Almanac, published by Reinhard Piper & Co., Munich, 1912. Hoberg/Jansen 24/3. Private collection.


46. The Shepherdess
1912. Woodcut on cream Japan paper. Stamped "Handdruck vom Originalholzstock bestätigt" (authorized hand-print from the original wood block) and signed by Maria Marc, verso. 8 3/4" x 3" (22.2 x 7.6 cm). From the first edition of 21 known prints. Hoberg/Jansen 29/1.

47. Genesis II
1914. Woodcut in black, yellow and green on thin off-white laid paper. 9 1/2" x 7 7/8" (24.1 x 20 cm). Three color print printed from three blocks. Hoberg/Jansen 42/2.

EMIL NOLDE (German, 1867-1956)

50. Head of an Apostle
1909. Watercolor and pen and ink on thin watermarked cream wove paper. Signed, lower right. 10 1/2" x 8 1/4" (26.7 x 21 cm). Authenticated by Prof. Dr. Manfred Reuther, May 7, 2017.

52. Christ and the Sinner
1911. Etching on heavy off-white wove paper. Signed, lower right. 11 7/8" x 9 3/4" (30.2 x 24.8 cm). One of 6 impressions in this state. Schiefler/Mosel R 155/V.

53. Prophet
1912. Woodcut on heavy cream wove paper. Signed, lower right, and titled, lower left. Inscribed "Weihnachten 1937" (Christmas 1937), lower right margin. 12 3/4" x 8 7/8" (32.2 x 22.7 cm). From an edition of between 20 and 30 impressions. Schiefler/Mosel H 110.

54. Woman, Man, Servant
1918. Etching on heavy white wove paper. Signed, lower right, and titled, lower margin. 10 3/8" x 8 5/8" (26.2 x 21.9 cm). One of 18 impressions in this state. Schiefler/Mosel 192/I.

EGON SCHIELE (Austrian, 1890-1918)

60. Two Peasant Women
1908. Colored crayon on heavy brown wove paper. Initialed and dated, lower left. Inscribed "Hirschbergen 1908," verso. 6 3/4" x 7 7/8" (17.1 x 20 cm). Kallir D. 246a.

61. Baby
1910. Pencil on tan wove paper. Initialed "S" and dated, lower right. 22" x 14 1/2" (55.9 x 36.8 cm). Kallir D. 392.

63. Study for a Never-Executed Painting
1912. Watercolor, gouache and pencil o heavy cream graph paper. Initialed and dated, lower left. 8 1/4" x 11 3/4" (20.8 x 29.7 cm). Kallir D. 1193. Private collection.

65. Poster for the 49th Secession Exhibition
1918. Lithograph in black, yellow, and reddish brown on thin yellowish poster paper. 26 3/4" x 21" (67.9 x 53.3 cm). Kallir G. 15/b.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Online Story and Forthcoming Picture Book: 19th-Century Artist Thomas Cole to a New Generation

Inside "Picturing America: Thomas Cole and The Birth of American Art" by Hudson Talbott.
Children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott has teamed up with the Thomas Cole National Historic Site to present Thomas Cole’s story online for free to children of all ages.

The story introduces the 19th-century artist and founder of America’s first major art movement to a new generation of young readers in conjunction with the Bicentennial of Cole’s arrival in America in 1818. Thomas Cole was an economic migrant displaced by the Industrial Revolution in England who fell in love with the American wilderness and advocated for the preservation of this nation’s landscapes.

Thomas Cole’s story online is a 14-page excerpt from the forthcoming publication Picturing America: Thomas Cole And The Birth of American Art with select content exclusive to the online publication. Picturing America will be published by Penguin Random House in the Fall of 2018.
The online excerpt, which children and their families can flip through and enjoy together, was created to show kids that historic characters like Thomas Cole were real people with great stories to tell.
The full 32-page book can be ordered in advance and a portion of sales will go towards the historic site.  Reserve your copy today to receive a signed copy from the author and 15% off. Orders after May 1 will receive 10% off, and all books will be sent out starting in September, 2018.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Cole’s arrival from England in 1818, the Thomas Cole Site is partnering with the Yale Center for British Art to present the special exhibition Picturesque and Sublime: Thomas Cole’s Trans-Atlantic Inheritance in Thomas Cole’s New Studio, in Catskill, NY.

This exhibition, from May 1 to Nov. 4, 2018, is designed to complement the major Cole exhibition at The MetThomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossingson view now through May 13. After the presentation at The Met, the exhibition will be shown at The National Gallery, London (June 11–October 7, 2018).

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Masters of Spain: Goya and Picasso

Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College
March 17 - June 17

The exhibition includes more than 50 works of art and features the iconic

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“Tauromaquia” (Bullfighting) series of etchings by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes,

as well as rare late-career works by Pablo Picasso in multiple media from ceramic to cardboard. 

 Goya, Picasso Exhibition Set to Open at the Polk Museum of Art
Francisco Goya, 'Termeridad de martincho en la plaza de Zaragoza,' 1815-16, Etching, Image courtesy The Art Company.

The majority of the works in the show are on international loan from The Art Company, located in Pesaro, Italy.

Goya was fascinated by the concept of the bullfight as emblematic of Spanish history, as was Picasso, and that theme is represented throughout the exhibition, said Dr. H. Alexander Rich, PMA Curator and FSC Art History Professor. Goya explores the artistry and the violence of the bullfight in the complete 40 prints of the “Tauromaquia” series.

“I believe it can be argued that Goya was trying, through this series focused on the tradition of the bullfight, to revive an element of the collective Spanish spirit, which had been diminished severely following the Peninsular War from 1807 to 1814,” Rich said.

The bull was also an important symbol to Picasso, and the bullfight was something that recurred in his work. He often thought of himself as a bull, as it was the epitome of machismo, Rich said. Picasso’s depiction of the bull is present in his ceramic and two-dimensional work in the exhibition, alongside other frequent Picasso themes including women, his wives and mistresses, and cubistic still lifes.

Other notable works in the exhibition come from Picasso’s 1969 “Portraits Imaginaires” series, two pieces on corrugated cardboard representing a king and queen and produced only a few years before his death in 1973.

“These pieces reflect Picasso’s unique use of materials,” Rich said. “All the way to his 91st year, he always loved to experiment.”

A number of famous ceramic works by Picasso are included in this exhibition, including “Corrida,” “Profile of Jacqueline” and “Tete de Chevre de Profil (Goat’s Head in Profile)” from the PMA’s Permanent Collection.

Picasso started working in ceramics in 1946, and the medium became his principal focus for the next nine years. Intentionally imperfect, his works in pottery were all handcrafted, as opposed to spinning on a wheel.