Galerie St. Etienne to Launch Microsite for Youth Style Featuring Early 20th Century Austrian and German Posters from the Collection of Merrill C. Berman

Visual Arts

Galerie St. Etienne will launch a new microsite dedicated to their upcoming exhibition Youth Style, which focuses on the Jugendstil art movement. Premiering on April 30, the site is tailored to highlight the notably large format of Jugendstil posters, and provides historical context on Austria’s and Germany’s first avant-garde movement, as well as on each exhibited artist. Drawn from the collection of Merrill C. Berman—a preeminent collector of twentieth-century graphic design—the exhibition includes a rare interview between Berman and gallery director Jane Kallir. marks a new phase in the Galerie St. Etienne’s 80-year history of promoting scholarship on German and Austrian modernism.

Presenting some 45 works from the near-encyclopedic collection of Merrill C. Berman, the site includes rare posters by Ferdinand Andri, Lucian Bernhard, Thomas Theodor Heine, Gustav Klimt, Julius Klinger, Josef Maria Olbrich, Alfred Roller, Egon Schiele and other masters of the genre. From roughly 1895 to 1918, the uniquely Germanic interpretation of Art Nouveau that came to be known as Jugendstil found expression in all the decorative arts, most prominently in Flächenkunst, or two-dimensional design. Youth Style provides an all-encompassing look at the varied styles and evolving aesthetics of this period. The posters feature subjects ranging from contemporary art exhibitions and orchestral performances to car shows, shoes, cigarettes and more.

Berman began collecting these posters in the 1970s, during a time when there was little public awareness of the Jugendstil movement. Through his fervent, dedicated collecting style, Berman amassed one of the largest collections of Jugendstil posters, raising awareness of its legitimacy, furthering scholarship and helping develop a market for the genre. continues this tradition by providing a public space to share editorial content, imagery and historical context on an important movement that has often been overshadowed by Art Nouveau.

About the Merrill C. Berman Collection

Berman’s expansive collection of posters began almost by accident. Originally a self-professed collector of “name brand” art, he was forced to sell his holdings and reassess in the early 1970s. “My financial low point came just as Art Nouveau and Art Deco posters and objects were being rediscovered,” he recalls. With an inherent interest in graphic design and little competition for these previously overlooked works, Berman circled the globe, amassing expert knowledge and, eventually, a comprehensive collection of twentieth- century design. In 2018, MoMA acquired 324 avant-garde masterworks from Berman’s collection, some of which will be presented in the upcoming exhibition Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented. Galerie St. Etienne’s Youth Style can be considered a prequel to MoMA’s exhibition, which will focus on the revolutionary work made between the two world wars.

About Galerie St. Etienne

Founded in 1939 by Otto Kallir, the Galerie St. Etienne is the oldest gallery in the United States specializing in Austrian and German Expressionism as well as in the work of self-taught artists. The gallery mounted the first American one-person shows of Erich Heckel (1955), Gustav Klimt (1959), Oskar Kokoschka (1940), Alfred Kubin (1941), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1958) and Egon Schiele (1941). The gallery is also known for its expertise on Käthe Kollwitz. St. Etienne was also instrumental in arranging the first American museum acquisitions of works by these artists, through sales and donations. Galerie St. Etienne developed a commitment to the work of self-taught American and European artists after presenting Grandma Moses’s first one-person gallery show in 1940. Firmly committed to scholarship, the gallery’s directors have authored catalogues raisonnés on Richard Gerstl, Grandma Moses and Egon Schiele. The current director, Jane Kallir, has written more than 20 books and is the leading authority on Egon Schiele.