Galerie St. Etienne, which has established itself as a powerhouse for German and Austrian Expressionism and self-taught artists, is going the nonprofit route. By the end of 2020, the gallery will be known as the St. Etienne Foundation, and will assist with museum exhibitions and scholarship for artists traditionally associated with the gallery, like Käthe Kollwitz and Gustav Klimt.
Gallery and foundation director Jane Kallir said in a statement:
Scholarship has always been integral to the Galerie St. Etienne’s mission. However, it is no secret that mid-sized galleries such as ours have difficulty competing in today’s global marketplace, and the increased emphasis on investment is antithetical to our philosophy. We felt we had to choose between dealing and scholarship. We chose scholarship.
Kallir founded a separate nonprofit, the Kallir Research Institute, in 2017 to continue the work of her grandfather and Galerie St. Etienne founder Otto Kallir. So far, the foundation has digitized an Egon Schiele catalogue raisonné.
Otto Kallir founded Galerie St. Etienne in Vienna in 1923 under the name Neue Galerie—later used by cosmetics mogul, collector, and philanthropist Ronald Lauder for his Upper East Side museum. The gallery moved to New York in 1939, giving artists like Erich Heckel, Oskar Kokoschka, and Alfred Kubin their first American solo shows. After discovering the work of Grandma Moses and giving her her first one-person show in 1940, the gallery also developed a focus on self-taught American and European artists. The announcement of Galerie St. Etienne’s shift to a nonprofit comes weeks after its longtime co-director Hildegard Bachert died in October. Bachert joined the gallery soon after its move to New York, and became its co-director upon Otto Kallir’s death in 1978.
Galerie St. Etienne has shows lined up through next year, including “The Expressionist Legacy,” on view through February. Three more exhibitions are planned for 2020, including a solo show by Sue Coe, known for her activist art, which is due to coincide with the U.S. presidential election. After transitioning to a nonprofit, some of the St. Etienne Foundation's first projects will include Grandma Moses exhibitions in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., and digitizing catalogues raisonnés for Moses and Richard Gerstl.