Galerie St. Etienne
Who Paid the Piper?
WHO PAID THE PIPER?
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The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
March 8 through May 26, 2007
Starting with work produced by artists associated with the Vienna Secession and its applied-arts offshoot, the Wiener Werkstätte, WHO PAID THE PIPER? The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna traces the gradual transition from institutional to private patronage, and with it, the shift from art-nouveau elegance to a more confrontational brand of Expressionism. Including loans from private collectors and the Neue Galerie New York, the show features major works by Josef Hoffmann, Emil Hoppe, Marcel Kammerer, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Dagobert Peche, Alfred Roller, Egon Schiele and others.
Among the highlights of WHO PAID THE PIPER? are a large number of drawings by Gustav Klimt, whose early work as a muralist documents the last gasp of official patronage in Vienna, and whose iconic portraits of women confirm the importance of the haute bourgeois collector in early twentieth century Vienna. By contrast, Expressionists like Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, also well represented in the exhibition, could not rely on this rarified group of patrons and were forced to seek support elsewhere. Almost all of Kokoschka’s portrait commissions were rejected by the sitters, and he eventually found greater success moving to Berlin and relying on art dealers, a profession well established in Germany but still nascent in Austria. Egon Schiele’s principal collectors were for the most part middle-class professionals, who sometimes used his financial struggles to drive hard bargains. Schiele’s relationships with all his early collectors gradually soured. To the end of his brief life, Schiele never overcame his aversion to dealers, and could not abandon the dream of an enlightened Künstlerschaft (art community)--a concept originated by Klimt and the Secession--that would enable him to sell his work without compromise. Caught between a waning Imperial regime and a more democratic, capitalistic marketplace, the artists of fin-de-siècle Vienna had been uniquely empowered by their sympathetic patrons.
WHO PAID THE PIPER? The Art of Patronage in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna is documented by a comprehensive checklist, which is available free of charge by mail or can be down-loaded from our website http://www.gseart.com.