The Galerie St. Etienne Presents The Art Dealer as Scholar
The Art Dealer as Scholar, an exhibition of important works by Käthe Kollwitz, Alfred Kubin, and Egon Schiele, will open at the Galerie St. Etienne on July 16. The second of three exhibitions celebrating the Galerie St. Etienne’s 80th anniversary, the show features some 70 works by these modern pioneers. Focusing on print connoisseurship, it includes Kubin graphics first published by the gallery’s founder, examples of working poofs and studies by Kollwitz and Schiele. By tracing the creative processes of the three artists, the exhibition explores the role the Galerie St. Etienne has played in promoting scholarship throughout the 20th century, and, by extension, how the role of dealers has evolved in today’s contemporary market.
While commerce and art-historical scholarship may seem antithetical to one another, the two have been closely intertwined since the dawn of the modern era. The Galerie St. Etienne, whose origins date back to early 20th-century Vienna, exemplifies a longstanding tradition. In the 19th century, a system of art dealing that focused on one-person shows and exclusive representation of artists began to evolve. This in turn led to detailed record-keeping for internal use, as well as outreach via publications, travelling shows, museum collaborations, and the printing of limited-edition graphics.
Otto Kallir, who founded Galerie St. Etienne in New York in 1939, epitomized this new type of dealer. As a teenager in Vienna he took painting lessons and apprenticed at an uncle’s lithography shop. After World War I, he established his own press, the Verlag Neuer Graphik, which today is best remembered for issuing the first editions of Egon Schiele’s six etchings and two final lithographs. Kallir continued his publishing activities after establishing the Neue Galerie in 1923. Among his closest collaborators in this regard was Alfred Kubin, a consummate draughtsman who produced stand-alone prints as well as illustrated books. In 1930 Kallir published the first comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Schiele’s oil paintings. He would go on to update this book in 1966 and issue a catalogue raisonné of Schiele’s prints in 1970. Jane Kallir, Otto’s granddaughter, continued his mission following his death in 1978. She has curated exhibitions for over 50 museums worldwide and is the author of numerous books, including Egon Schiele: The Complete Works, the first catalogue raisonné to document the artist’s watercolors and drawings. The Art Dealer as Scholar features 15 works by Schiele alone, including a complete set of his prints.
Hildegard Bachert (who joined the staff in November 1940 and, though now retired, remains in close touch with the gallery) was largely responsible for the Galerie St. Etienne’s intensive engagement with Kollwitz. Bachert was instrumental in the compilation of all the Kollwitz catalogues raisonnés, starting with the 1955 graphics catalogue by August Klipstein. Prior to this time, Hildegard recalled, “there was very little scholarly knowledge about Kollwitz…Some of the prints we had were very rare, but we didn’t know it! We discovered aspects of Kollwitz’s achievement no one had ever seen before.” The current show presents over 30 works by Kollwitz, including numerous rare proofs, preliminary drawings and rejected prints.
The Art Dealer as Scholar is accompanied by an essay by Jane Kallir, detailing the relationships between these essential modern artists and the three generations that have run the Galerie St. Etienne.
Contact: Abby Addams