Despite the dwindling of first-rate modernist works in the marketplace, this year’s Recent Acquisitions exhibition demonstrates that such rarities are still obtainable. Indeed, two of the masterworks in the current exhibition have not been offered for sale since the early years of the twentieth century. Max Beckmann’s monumental Portrait of Irma Simon comes to us directly from the sitter’s family. Simon, a close friend of the artist, introduced him to his second wife, Mathilde (Quappi) Kaulbach. Irma and her husband Heinrich Simon, editor and publisher of the Frankfurter Zeitung, hosted a popular lunchtime salon where the local intelligentsia gathered on Fridays. The lives of the Jewish Simons changed dramatically following Hitler’s rise in 1933. Heinrich was removed from his position at the newspaper, and the family had to live apart until they were able to immigrate to the U.S. in 1940. These travails were far in the future when Beckmann painted the 23-year-old Irma, yet a sense of foreboding pervades her youthful visage.
Another rarity in our summer show is Egon Schiele’s Standing Female in Shirt with Black Stockings and Red Scarf. This bold watercolor, which dates from the peak of the artist’s Expressionist phase in early 1911, was first exhibited at Gustav Nebehay’s gallery in Vienna in 1919. Most of the works in that show came from the estate of the artist, who had died the previous year. It is believed that this watercolor was acquired by the great-grandfather of the present owners in 1919. The colors are exceptionally well preserved, because the sheet has seldom been exposed since.
Additional highlights among our “Recent Acquisitions” include Emil Nolde’s stunning watercolor portrait of his wife, Ada—as fresh in its coloration as when first painted. Gustav Klimt’s famous Poster for the First Exhibition of the Vienna Secession is almost never seen in the marketplace, and our impression is in exceptionally pristine condition. Images of women were the subject of our spring exhibition, “The Woman Question,” and of our installation at Art Basel in June. Reprising this theme, our summer show includes three life-sized female portraits in oil: by Otto Dix, Oskar Kokoschka and Marie-Louise Motesiczky. The presentation is rounded out with further works by Beckmann, Dix, Erich Heckel, E.L. Kirchner, Klimt, Georg Kolbe, Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Mueller, Nolde, Schiele and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. American offerings include a unique wood sculpture by Leonard Baskin, Man with Pomegranate, and a selection of paintings by Grandma Moses.
RECENT ACQUISITIONS is documented by a comprehensive checklist, which is available free of charge by mail, or can be downloaded from our website: http://www.gseart.com. The accompanying essay contains the Galerie St. Etienne’s annual “state of the market” report. This year’s topic, “A Tale of Two Art Worlds” discusses the developing split between market “haves” and “have-nots.