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Oral history interview with Jane Kallir, 1993 Feb. 25

Kallir, Jane, 1954-

Gallery director


Collection Information

Size: 1 Sound cassette, Sound recording: 1 sound cassette (90 min.), analog; 29 Pages, Transcript

Summary: Interview of Jane Kallir, conducted by Rose-Carol Washton Long for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in New York, New York on February 25, 1993.
Kallir speaks of the founding of the Galerie St. Etienne by her grandfather; her grandfather's Neue Galerie in Vienna; her education in art history and studio art; how she began working at the Galerie St. Etienne; her interest in folk art and Austrian and German Expressionism; writing a catalogue raisonne on Egon Schiele; her grandfather's attitude towards women artists, including Kathe Kollwitz and Grandma Moses; and exhibitions at the Galerie including Gustav Klimt to Egon Schiele, Austria's Expressionism, The Folk Art Tradition. Kallir also recalls John Kallir, Eva Marie Kallir, Hildegard Bachert, and others.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jane Kallir (1954- ) is an art dealer from Galerie St. Etienne in New York, N.Y.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators. Funding for this interview was provided by the Art Dealers Association.

Language Note

English .


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Jane Kallir on 1993 February 23. The interview took place in [Place], and was conducted by Rose-Carol Washton Long for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 

Jane Kallir reviewed this transcript in 2019 and made corrections and emendations. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Okay. This is an interview for the Archives of American Art, and today is—

JANE KALLIR:  The 25th, I believe.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  The 25th of February, 1993. Now, as I said, I'd like to start with a few questions for you—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —about biography.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And, you were born in 1954 in—

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —New York City to John Kallir, the son of the founder of Galerie St. Etienne. Perhaps you could tell us why you, over any of the other members of your family, have taken on the responsibility of continuing this art gallery?

JANE KALLIR:  I guess there are a couple of answers to that. My father certainly was interested in art, and I think he would've liked to work for the gallery, but his father, my grandfather, was an extremely autocratic personality.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], I've heard.

JANE KALLIR:  And the father-son relationship, even under the best of circumstances, can be fraught with certain very normal tensions. I know that my father, in fact, worked here for a very brief period after he got out of the Army. He served in the American Army during World War II, and it just didn't work. I think he lasted less than a week. It was just—


JANE KALLIR:  Yeah. [Laughs] It was just clearly not something that was meant to be. And he ended up going into pharmaceutical advertising—


JANE KALLIR:  —and, in fact, eventually founded an agency—Kallir, Philips, Ross—that became the largest in its field. My grandfather also had a daughter, my aunt—


JANE KALLIR:  —Eva Marie.


JANE KALLIR:  She was the only member of the family who went back to Austria after the war. As you know, the family had immigrated in 1938, very shortly after the Nazi Anschluss, going first to Switzerland and France and then ultimately to New York in '39. Eva really just never felt entirely comfortable in this country. She did go back to Vienna—


JANE KALLIR:  —after the war, and for quite some time she assisted in the operations of my grandfather's original gallery there, the Neue Galerie, which he was fortunate enough in being able to reclaim. It had been "Aryanized" in order to preserve it. He had an "Aryan" colleague there, Vita Künstler—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, I've heard about her.

JANE KALLIR:  —who took it over and kept it for him, in a very decent and honorable way that unfortunately was all too rare during those times. So he got it back, and she, Eva Marie, and Vita together ran the gallery. I don't have the exact dates in my head. Hildegard might know roughly how long Eva was associated with the gallery. But basically, although she—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Late '40s, early '50s.

JANE KALLIR:  Fifties, it—


JANE KALLIR:  Although Eva was very interested in art as an appreciator, there's a vast difference, as you can imagine, between enjoying looking at art, making art—she was very crafts-oriented—and actually running a gallery and selling it. Her training and her background was in social work, and—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  [Inaudible], mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —and that is the field that she had eventually returned to. She became a psychiatric social worker in Vienna, and although she's semi-retired now, she still does volunteer work.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And she lives there, in Vienna.

JANE KALLIR:  In Vienna.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  So, now we've concluded the first [laughs] generation. As to the second generation, I have a younger sister, Barbara [ph]. As children growing up, I suppose we were both interested in art, but I was really more obsessive about it, and also somehow closer to my grandparents. I worked with my grandfather—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  From about what age?

JANE KALLIR:  Not in any kind of intensive or ongoing way, but I worked at the gallery on and off during high school.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, mm-hmm [affirmative].


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  You attended high school here in New York?

JANE KALLIR:  In Westchester.


JANE KALLIR:  My parents moved to Westchester, to Scarsdale, when I was about three years old.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I see. And what school did you attend in, in West—

JANE KALLIR:  Edgemont High School, which is Greenburgh, technically, not Scarsdale.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure, between—isn't it Hartsdale and Scarsdale?

JANE KALLIR:  No, it's more between Scarsdale and Ardsley—


JANE KALLIR:  —have the geography in your head.



ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Did they have any, by the way, any art history courses at that time in the high school?



JANE KALLIR:  No, they didn't.


JANE KALLIR:  They had studio art, and actually that was really my orientation at that time. I wanted to be an artist, and I remember very clearly at one point, I was at my grandparents' apartment, which was then on Riverside Drive, and my grandfather showed me a drawing that was hanging on the wall outside the kitchen of a man in a field, plowing a field, looking up at an airplane. And he said, "What do you think of this drawing?" I, being very critical, said, "Well, you know, this or that is off, and it's not very good." And he said, "Do you know who did that drawing?" [Laughs.] I said, "No." He said, "I did, when I was a young man." And he said, "I also wanted to be an artist, but I wasn't good enough, and neither are you, [laughs] and you're going to end up working for the gallery." I was, of course, furious. That was the last thing I wanted to hear.


JANE KALLIR:  I must've been around 15 or 16 years old. But in the end, he really was right. I don't think that I had or have what it takes to really be a good artist, although seeing it from the perspective of making art is definitely helpful—


JANE KALLIR:  —in appreciating it and what I do now.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Um, did you, um—did you actually come down and work here, say, on a Saturday?

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.


JANE KALLIR:  That's exactly what I did.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And in some summers. Did you—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —ever work here during the summers?

JANE KALLIR:  In the summers the gallery in those days was closed, as many galleries were.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Not just for August, but for July, as well.

JANE KALLIR:  I don't exactly know what the schedule was. I don't think it was anything hard and fast. But my grandparents had a home out on Long Island, and they were of that school that would just pack up and move out for the summer. Although my grandfather was a classic workaholic, and could never really bear to be away from the gallery for any extended period of time—he would periodically go back to the city and check on things, and I think Hildegard was here—you can ask her again what it was like.


JANE KALLIR:  She was here more or less regularly in July, and would pick up the mail, and bring things out to him on Long Island. So in the summers, I very often visited for extended periods out there, and I remember being out there, for example, when they were working on the Grandma Moses catalogue raisonné.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Now, did just you go out for the summers, or did your sister go out, as well?

JANE KALLIR:  We both went out.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  You both went out, mm-hmm [affirmative]. Did she ever work, also for, uh, Saturdays?

JANE KALLIR:  No, she never did.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  She never did. So that already indicated some special interest of yours—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —coming to work here—

JANE KALLIR:  —I guess it did.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —in, in the summers. Now, then you went off to Brown—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —uh, University, and you studied, um, studio art there.

JANE KALLIR:  I studied both studio art and art history, but I majored in studio. I was still seeing myself as being a practicing artist, and the opportunity, particularly to take classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, was something that I very much wanted to take advantage of. And I'm very glad that I did. The kinds of specific skills in lithography and etching and photography, and so on, that I was able to pick up there have been things that I use constantly.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm, mm-hmm [affirmative]. Do you remember any specific, um, art history courses, or any specific teachers?

JANE KALLIR:  I took the run-of-the-mill, general introductory classes: a survey class; a modern class, with Kermit Champa, a Renaissance class, with a professor whose name, unfortunately, I do not recall, but he was fabulous. He was really an excellent teacher. But overall, my classes just covered in a not terribly in-depth way the boundaries of what was then deemed to be art history. There were a lot of things that were left out. A lot of things that I later came to study working at the Gallery, we never touched on.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yeah, exactly. Uh, in your course on modern art, for example, did they deal very much with German art at that time?

JANE KALLIR:  They dealt not at all with—


JANE KALLIR:  —Austrian art. I think we had one day for German art, and I think it was 80 percent Kandinsky. [They laugh.] It really was very much geared toward the French formalist—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  To the French, right.

JANE KALLIR:  —approach. Kandinsky was someone who could be plugged into that. Expressionism just really didn't fit, even though Kermit Champa has written some very good things in that area. It didn't seem to—


JANE KALLIR:  —to be of much interest at that point. Nor, of course, was any nonacademic and folk art—


JANE KALLIR:  —touched upon at all.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Well, in the '70s, this still would've been the emphasis more on formalism—

JANE KALLIR:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —than, than today.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I think it's all changing, correct?

JANE KALLIR:  Yes, it is. I felt in many ways, having grown up with this kind of art, and having a very personal feeling about what it was all about, and the need to express something personal and human, the formalist approach totally left me cold. I just instinctively felt that there's got to be so much more to this than what we're being told, and to narrow it down to those few aspects did not—I often wish that I had had the opportunity to go back, or I had been born, perhaps, five years later, because it would've been an entirely different experience even in the late '70s or early '80s.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm, mm-hmm [affirmative]. Um, when you finished school, because, uh, you received your degree in 1976—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and then you began working at the gallery in 1977, the summer, I think it was, of '77, so—

JANE KALLIR:  Well, another change that's come about since I left school is that everybody has become very, very professionally-oriented.


JANE KALLIR:  But for those of us who went to school in the late '60s and early '70s, careerism was the furthest thing from our minds. And a lot of us—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's very interesting.

JANE KALLIR:  —got out of school—yes, we had had summer jobs, but they were not career-track jobs. They were things like waitressing and camp counseling, things that really did not prepare one to do anything. So the first thing that happened was that I got out of school and started looking for a job in New York City, and realized I had no—absolutely no relevant experience. So I did a half-year unpaid internship at the Guggenheim, which is the kind of thing that students now do—


JANE KALLIR:  —during their summers, but—


JANE KALLIR:  —I had to kind of catch up after the fact. And then I worked for the Lefebre Gallery, if you remember—


JANE KALLIR:  —John Lefebre, which was not [laughs] altogether a positive experience for various reasons. I really wanted very, very much to come and work here. And my grandfather somehow—I can't say that he was against it, but he was deeply ambivalent. Part of it was that he had had a stroke, a mild stroke, in the early '70s. And from that time on, the gallery was really dormant. It did occasional exhibitions. It did a major Kollwitz exhibition at the Kennedy Galleries in, I think, 1976. So there were projects that we could do at other venues, but essentially the day-to-day dealing with the public had been grossly curtailed, if not eliminated entirely. He didn't entirely know what he was to do with me, if I were to be hired. It was a staff at that time of only two, in addition to himself: Hildegard and one secretary. Very fortuitously, that secretary quit in the summer of 1977. I had been laid off. I guess galleries still treat people like this: summer's here; you're not going to get a paycheck until September. That's the end of that. [Laughs.]


JANE KALLIR:  And so, as I said, she quit that summer, and I came to work full-time here over the course of those summer months. I don't exactly remember when. And that was the beginning of my association here.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And so then you worked here for about—well, it was about a year and a half—

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and then your grandfather died, so—

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And then who was responsible for then appointing you and Hildegard as the co-directors?


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Um, there's a board, or it was just—

JANE KALLIR:  Well, it's basically a family-owned business.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  So it's my father, and at that time my grandmother was still alive. I don't know that it was so much that we were appointed as that we made the decision—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That—then the two of you made that decision.

JANE KALLIR:  —that we would continue the gallery.


JANE KALLIR:  I don't—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. That would've been crucial, that you decided to continue the gallery.

JANE KALLIR:  My grandfather, like many people, you make plans for what's to happen after your death, up to a point—


JANE KALLIR:  —but he also was the type who felt so centered in the gallery. On some level he really couldn't imagine it continuing without him—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  So he had never formally in any way discussed with either you or Hildegard—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —about who would then—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —take over the gallery after he died.

JANE KALLIR:  No, no. He became less and less able to cope, and—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yeah, such a painful thing when—

JANE KALLIR:  Yeah, it was just—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —people have had a stroke.

JANE KALLIR:  Well, he had recovered quite well from his stroke.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, he had. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  It was other problems in the end that really did him in. He was not well that year and a half that I worked with him, although he continued to come to the gallery until, easily two months before he died.


JANE KALLIR:  He came in every day.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yeah, that's very—it's painful, though—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —when someone is elderly and ill and still trying to maintain. In the beginning, when you and Hildegard then—so in some ways you could say you and Hildegard yourselves decided to continue to run the gallery.

JANE KALLIR:  Yes, basically. I think that's true. I suppose if my grandmother and my father had wanted to sell everything off we would've had no choice, and if they want—if they'd insisted that we keep it going and we hadn't [laughs] wanted to it would've been rather pointless, but, as it turned out—


JANE KALLIR:  —I think everybody was very much in sync with the decision, and particularly my grandmother was extremely happy after having lost her husband to see the thing that she knew he cared about most in his life—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], right.

JANE KALLIR:  —continue.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yeah, yeah. Um, how did the two of you divide up the duties in the '80s, then? In the very beginning, and how has it changed?

JANE KALLIR:  That's a good question. There were certain things that Hildegard had always done. She had always supervised the accounts, for example. She had always taken care of things like shipping and insurance, and what would broadly be described as registrarial duties. And the basic nuts and bolts: management and organization, the filing system, for example, is something that she invented, and which is unique to the gallery's operation. There is no one right or wrong way of organizing things.


JANE KALLIR:  It evolves over the years. I saw myself, particularly in those early years, as being responsible for revitalizing the gallery, for taking this entity. Five years in New York is a long time. The gallery hadn't had a public exhibition since, I think, about 1970. My grandfather died in '78, and we reopened to the public at the end of '79. So that was a very long period of time—


JANE KALLIR:  —not to have been active on the scene. Other dealers had been active in the same field, had a much higher profile than we did. The base of contacts and customers whom we had had through the '60s was not gone, but very much eroded and dormant. What I wanted to do was to reverse that, to reestablish the gallery's position in this field. It was a very good time to be doing that, as it turned out, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the field of Austrian Expressionism, particularly the earlier, more fin de siècle—Wiener Werkstätte, Gustav Klimt—that was undergoing a terrific revival. The groundwork had been very well laid through the '70s, by people like Sandra Comini, the Schorske book—it came out, I think, in the mid-'80s. There was the MoMA show in '86. There was just a lot of energy somehow collecting around this field at that particular moment. The way that we approached this whole project was that we began by doing a series of memorial exhibitions to my grandfather. The exhibitions were conceived like reunions of major pieces that had passed through the gallery's hands. We did four shows between 1980 and 1982. The first was Gustav Klimt Egon Schiele. The second was Austria's Expressionism. The third was The Folk Art Tradition.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], yes.

JANE KALLIR:  Fourth was a Grandma Moses show. They were all loan shows. They all had book-length catalogues that were conceived not only as memorials to my grandfather's work in these fields, but also as independent publications in their own right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure, and you had basically—you did these catalogues.

JANE KALLIR:  We did them, and they were all co-published by commercial publishers, which, as you know, is fairly routine for museum catalogues, but isn't something—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Isn't—definitely not for galleries.

JANE KALLIR:  —that galleries normally do. With the books and with the shows, it was clear to me that I was at least, if not more, interested in doing a more scholarly, more academic presentation of this material than I was simply in selling it. The desire to do that, fortunately throughout the '80s, was supported by the booming art market. It is a lot harder today to do the kinds of shows that we used to do where nothing is for sale, and where everything is borrowed from museums from around the country, and sometimes from all over the world.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Is that because of insurance, or because of the—

JANE KALLIR:  It's a lot of things. People borrowed too much in the '80s.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I see, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  Getting loans has become much more difficult.


JANE KALLIR:  That's the first thing. Second thing is insurance values. The third thing is that the courier requirements have gotten way out of control. I'm certainly a believer in protecting art in transit, but I don't think that absolutely every scrap of paper has to be accompanied by a curator—


JANE KALLIR:  —and I certainly don't think that if you borrow from three museums in Vienna you need three curators [laughs] to accompany all of those pieces. It's clear that they do it to get the free trips as much as anything else.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I see. Well, that's partially what fame—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —[laughs] what you've contributed to.

JANE KALLIR:  Well, I think that all museums have gotten—


JANE KALLIR:  —worse about this kind of thing. It becomes policy, and then you unthinkingly follow it. At a certain point, as money gets tighter, some of these things have to be rethought.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Now, in these exhibitions in the '80s, you did have some things for sale, though—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —some of the drawings or prints?

JANE KALLIR:  Usually very little. The exhibitions worked commercially because they helped to publicize the art. They helped to increase understanding of the art, and, I hope, contributed something in a long-term way to understanding of the art. Because we often had other things by the same artists that were for sale, even if they weren't in the exhibitions.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  On the exhibit, in the actual exhibit, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  A very interesting case in point is the Gerstl/Kokoschka show that we did just a year ago. That was a very, very important show. Getting that many major paintings by Gerstl—


JANE KALLIR:  —to this country for the first time—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  They—many were from private collections, isn't that right?

JANE KALLIR:  There was really nothing second-rate in the show. It was, on every level, a museum-type effort. But it did not get the kind of critical attention that we had hoped for. It did not draw the kinds of crowds that similar efforts we had done in the past did. And we did not sell a thing during that period. Nothing in the show was for sale, but we—


JANE KALLIR:  —did have other things, we—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Other works, yeah.

JANE KALLIR:  —and in a different economic climate I think that it would've generated a lot more enthusiasm than it did.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Now, Gerstl was one of the people that your grandfather really helped to discover—

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and support. Did—do you remember him talking to you about these Austrian artists, and about what his vision was, um—?

JANE KALLIR:  Yes, and—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Why he focused on Austrian art?

JANE KALLIR:  There are a lot of things that I would love to be able to ask him. As I myself became more knowledgeable about the field, and researched it; he was no longer here.


JANE KALLIR:  So I couldn't really ask him some of these obvious questions. He did do a show toward the end of his life that was a kind of a summing up of Austrian Expressionism. It was a kind of a halfhearted effort. The gallery wasn't open; it was more an effort to put something new on the walls and make it cohere and make sense. So there wasn't a catalogue or a checklist as such. But I remember working on little descriptive essays on some of the items in that show with him. That was really the only time that we had a direct opportunity to work together on something like this, and unfortunately—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Now, when was that? In the early '70s?

JANE KALLIR:  That, that—no, this must have been—


JANE KALLIR:  No, this was not that long before he died.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  This was mid-'70s.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mid-'70s, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  But the problem was that I didn't know anything about this art.


JANE KALLIR:  I had not yet done any kind of studying or research. He had it all in his head, but the books that I needed to read in some cases hadn't even been written yet.


JANE KALLIR:  I had never been to Vienna. And so, as I say, it was just a lost opportunity. It was something—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's interesting.

JANE KALLIR:  —I wasn't ready for.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Right, but that is interesting, that even in the '70s, I mean, as you were in high school then, and the—your family did not make trips back and forth to Vienna?

JANE KALLIR:  No, my grandfather did—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Your grandfather did.

JANE KALLIR:  —but with my parents, no—people didn't go to Europe as—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  The way they do now.

JANE KALLIR:  —the way they do now. It was a big deal to do that. Once we took a family trip to Europe when I was about 16, and we hit an enormous number of different cities and countries in a very short period of time, as Americans do, and did particularly then, when you had the feeling that you wouldn't be going back again.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, sure, yes.

JANE KALLIR:  But we didn't go to Vienna for the same reason a lot of people don't go to Vienna, and that is that it's not on the way to anywhere else.


JANE KALLIR:  If you go to Vienna, it has to be because you really want to go there.


JANE KALLIR:  Nobody was going to Eastern Europe—


JANE KALLIR:  —at that time. It's not near anything.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. Well, had your family encouraged you to study German? Did you study German?

JANE KALLIR:  My grandfather wanted me very, very much to study German. He felt that there was a great opportunity being wasted—and he was right—in the fact that my sister and I were not as young children being taught to speak. My mother is American, but my father could've made more of an effort, and certainly—


JANE KALLIR:  —my grandparents would've, had it been encouraged. You have to realize, this is the immediate postwar era—


JANE KALLIR:  —and there was a tremendous stigma attached to things that were German—


JANE KALLIR:  —and the German language. I don't think—the difference between Austria and Germany, and Austria's role in the war versus Germany's role in the war is a tough one even today.


JANE KALLIR:  And at that time, for all intents and purposes, there was no difference in people's minds. So my sister and I didn't study German. In fact—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  You probably studied French. [Laughs.]

JANE KALLIR:  No, I studied Spanish and Latin, actually, Spanish because everybody said that's the language you need, that's the up-and-coming language in America—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Right, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —and Latin because of my interest in writing and the structure of language.


JANE KALLIR:  But no, German wasn't offered at Edgemont High School at that time.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right. Now, did you study it in college, or not until after college?

JANE KALLIR:  I did not study it until after college. I continued the Spanish. I began studying German here in New York. It was very difficult to find a decent program—


JANE KALLIR:  —in the world of continuing education at that point. I've tried them all. I don't know what they're like now, [laughs] but certainly in the mid-'70s I went through NYU, Goethe-Institut, Hunter, and in the end I found that I learned the most at Hunter. But I did not learn nearly as much from those classes as I did later, just being thrown into—


JANE KALLIR:  —the thick of things, having to read books in German in connection with things that I was researching, having just—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Well, that's the best way to learn.

JANE KALLIR:  And spending certain number of weeks, if not months, every year in Germany and Austria, simply dealing with people who don't speak English. Not that my German is so wonderful, even now, but it's adequate. It suffices.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Right. You've had the support in doing the—this working the gallery from your husband, I would imagine. Um, he's in the art field, or—

JANE KALLIR:  My husband is a designer. He—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  A designer, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —for many years was an art director at The New York Times. He was the originating art director on the science and weekend sections. Then he became increasingly interested in computer graphics, and the technology of printing, and eventually, just actually a little less than a year ago, quit the Times to go work for Adobe Systems, which is the leading manufacturer of software for desktop publishing and printing.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Does he share your interest in the—

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, absolutely, yes.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —Austrian and German art?

JANE KALLIR:  From that point of view, he's been terrific. He's been, first of all, extremely patient [laughs] in accompanying me on my various travels, and following these unique little experiences that one has when one is—


JANE KALLIR:  —exploring things in a foreign culture. On the Schiele catalogue raisonné, which we haven't talked about at all, he was my photographer. He photographed—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, yes. That's been a real contribution, for sure.

JANE KALLIR:  —many, many dozens of Schieles in people's homes. And, most important, he designed the computer database that we used for the catalogue, and he also designed the interface that made it possible to transform the information to type without re-keyboarding anything, which was something.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Having worked with publishers, [laughs] I know that to be very true, unfortunately. Um, when your—one thing that I've noticed about your—this particular gallery is it has had a tradition of supporting women artists.

JANE KALLIR:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Um, I mean, your grandfather certainly picked up on women artists very early, and he's—

JANE KALLIR:  The funny thing is—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —had Kollwitz in the '40s.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Was he conscious of that?

JANE KALLIR:  No. He was a terrific misogynist, actually.


JANE KALLIR:  It was a typical comment—somebody once pointed this out to him, and he said, "Well, Kollwitz isn't a woman." [Laughs.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  So he just simply dismissed the idea, apparently.

JANE KALLIR:  The thing was that he, in a way, is correct: there shouldn't be such a thing as women or men artists. What difference does it make? You shouldn't look at gender at all, ideally. Although he did not believe in "women's art," in quotes that, he believed in "good art". And so when he saw it, he took it on.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. He wasn't going to be put off because this was done—

JANE KALLIR:  No, absolutely not.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —uh, by a woman. Um, and with Modersohn-Becker, because I noticed that he—

JANE KALLIR:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —had given Modersohn-Becker an exhibition in the '50s—

JANE KALLIR:  That's right.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —uh, was—would've been the same thing? Do you ever remember anything about why he was interested in Modersohn-Becker?

JANE KALLIR:  That is a better question for Hildegard, because obviously in '58 I was four years old—


JANE KALLIR:  —and I certainly have no recollection of that particular exhibition. We didn't have an opportunity to really follow up on that—


JANE KALLIR:  —until the mid-'80s, when we did two fairly ambitious Modersohn-Becker exhibitions in fairly quick succession. There wasn't much that he did in between, not, I think, for lack of wanting, but he, as we later on also discovered, found that there isn't enough of a basis to build on, unfortunately, with Modersohn-Becker in this country.


JANE KALLIR:  The work is in Germany. There isn't very much of it. Most of the major things are already in museums. The drawings, although they can be wonderful, in and of themselves are not going to get people terribly excited, if you don't see them in the context of the larger oeuvre.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  A large exhibit, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  So we—much to our regret—had very little opportunity after those two shows to do much with her here.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Have, um—in your recollections—I'm just thinking now of your grandfather again—did he ever discuss, or do you ever remember anything about his attitude towards abstract art? Because the gallery has not—does not really include, um—except for one early exhibit in the '40s, there's been very little to do with abstract art.

JANE KALLIR:  There's been very little to do with abstract art. I don't think that he had a very strong feeling for it. His approach definitely was figurative. It wasn't that he had anything against it. He showed abstract art occasionally also in Vienna. But he did not go along with the predominant tide of American Modernism in the postwar era. He did not think that Abstract Expressionism was particularly interesting. And he felt, I think, in general, that everything that was being hailed as being new and cutting-edge here had already been done before. He'd already been through that in Europe. It seemed neither new nor interesting nor particularly necessary to him.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  He had shown Itten. For example, that was—Johannes Itten was one of his very early exhibitions.

JANE KALLIR:  Itten was his art teacher.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, of course. Mm-hmm [affirmative].


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Now, Itten really emphasized abstract art.

JANE KALLIR:  He did, and what he thought of Itten—he published this Itten portfolio. I think that was—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, in '21, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —one of his first publications. As I say, I don't think he had a principal aversion to it. It was just that his interests and his eye were trained in a different direction.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm [affirmative]. And I guess you would just have the general sense of his feeling that abstract art was something tired, or that it wasn't of interest. It wasn't something that you really remember him speaking about?

JANE KALLIR:  Do I remember that directly? I can't recall any specific conversations, but I was definitely aware of it from him, rather than, you know, from hearsay.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Hmm. Well, that's interesting—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —that you were aware of it from him, that—but just in general—

JANE KALLIR:  But just—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —there's nothing specific that you—

JANE KALLIR:  No, I think specific things—how he reacted to a particular artist, or a particular exhibition here in New York, let's say, in the '50s or '60s. Those are better questions for Hildegard.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Okay. Did he ever discuss or mention to you anything about Itten, besides being his teacher, or—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  No, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  No, no, we never discussed that.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Just one last question about your grandfather: what would you just kind of summarize about your memories of him as they changed, as you got older?

JANE KALLIR:  Uh, [inaudible]. [Laughs.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I'm sure as a little girl you, you may have had one image of him—

JANE KALLIR:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and then actually it, it must have changed when you first started working here, or maybe it didn't change 'til much later.

JANE KALLIR:  I have different memories of him. He was definitely a grownup who liked children. He was very oriented toward children. In fact, he even kept a stash of toys here at the gallery for visiting children, and not just for my sister and me, but for—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  How interesting, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —for other people. He did—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, one moment. I think we do have to change this, because I see that that is—let me—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  You were—we were talking about your grandfather, and you were telling me about your memories—

JANE KALLIR:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].




JANE KALLIR:  He told us stories. He did magic tricks. He was a very good granddaddy to little children. Then, my next set of memories of him is perhaps less positive. As we entered adolescence—and this was the '60s, remember—


JANE KALLIR:  —there was a definite generation gap. I mean, he—


JANE KALLIR:  —he was someone—it wasn't just that he was older; he was really from an entirely different culture. The whole '60s sensibility, whether it's in dress or in music or whatever, he couldn't relate to that. Neither my sister nor I could particularly, from that perspective, relate to him.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  He commented about wearing jeans, or clothes or hairdos?

JANE KALLIR:  Right. Yes, all of that.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Do you remember any specific episodes?

JANE KALLIR:  No. Again, it's more a general kind of thing. And then, my last set of memories comes from the time that I worked fairly closely with him at the end. I think that there was an enormously good and deep understanding there. It was not an easy time, because he—

[Side conversation.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sorry, you were talking about—

JANE KALLIR:  As I started to say, it was not a terribly easy time, because he was really not well. He was plagued by all sorts of fears and insecurities because of that. But at the same time, when we could really get going on a project—and there were a number of projects that we worked on together—[side conversation]—I think that we very much saw eye to eye. I tried very hard to listen to what he wanted to do in a certain project, whether it be we were working on a German edition of his Grandma Moses book, we were working on an exhibition of naïve art here at the gallery, we were working on a Grandma Moses exhibition for the National Gallery. And when—you know, and I tried—I tried to listen to him to figure out how he wanted something to be done, because at that point he wasn't altogether capable of doing it himself, and then to do it. Usually that worked very, very well. Usually, he was extremely happy with the way these different collaborations turned out. Occasionally he would be seized by panic and he would say, "We shouldn't be doing this at all, we have to stop it," because he felt that he couldn't be entirely in control. But on the whole, I got a very good sense of his approach to doing things, which—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  What were some of the exact exhibitions that you worked on with him?

JANE KALLIR:  Well, there weren't that many. You know, it was only a year and a half—


JANE KALLIR:  —and it was a period when the gallery wasn't open to the public.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure, but this is when you're preparing, you said, the German edition of—?

JANE KALLIR:  We did the German edition of the Grandma Moses book. We did a folk art exhibition here at the gallery, which was a very big deal, because he didn't want to do an exhibition. He was really scared of having an exhibition—hadn't had an exhibition in—


JANE KALLIR:  —years at that point. We did a show of Yugoslav naïve artists with the Hammer Galleries. The biggest thing was the exhibition at the National Gallery, the Grandma Moses exhibition, which unfortunately he didn't live to see. It opened about two and a half months after he died.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Do you have any recollection that his interest in Grandma Moses was in any way related to his interest in Austrian and German Modernism?

JANE KALLIR:  Well, yes, of course it was. You have to think back to that time. They were all interested in folk art. Look at the behind-glass paintings—


JANE KALLIR:  —that Kandinsky and Münter collected, for example. Look at the Blaue Reiter Almanac.


JANE KALLIR:  The Museum of Modern Art did the pioneering exhibitions in that area. There was a very, very close relationship between Modernism and nonacademic art—


JANE KALLIR:  —during those early decades. He came out of that tradition, and it wasn't unique. It seems so strange now that a gallery should have Egon Schiele and Grandma Moses, but it was absolutely natural. Look at Sidney Janis. Look at Klaus Perls. Look at—I mean, there are a lot of people in those early years who did both.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  So that's very—yes, very, very interesting that in, with a number of galleries here in New York, you see a real parallel between your collecting folk art and their collecting folk art, even if they hadn't specialized in German or Austrian—

JANE KALLIR:  No, it, it was something that—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —modernist art.

JANE KALLIR:  —that came with an interest in Modernism. Perls, for example, is a dealer in French modern art, and so he has French naïves. People don't even remember that they were showing people like Bombois and Vivin, certainly through the '70s. They regularly exhibited that kind of thing. They still have quite a stash of material.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And you think this has changed now? There's less of an interest in the naïve artists, or—?

JANE KALLIR:  I think what happened was basically that naïve art was figurative, and the emphasis became for periods so exclusively abstract, that it was hard to reconcile the two. That's one issue. Another issue is that the problem always with the field of naïve art is quality control. At a certain point everybody's amazed that these artists exist and that they're doing fantastic work, and then somehow it becomes very hard—something about it is so intrinsically egalitarian, that it's very hard to say a Horace Pippin is better than a Fannie Lou Spelce, let's say. I don't even know if you know her work.


JANE KALLIR:  You're not missing anything. There are a lot of bad ones out there—


JANE KALLIR:  —and very few people who seem able or willing to make that judgment. So the field becomes diluted. That's one problem. And then what happened also was that the Museum of Modern Art, and other museums—the Met houses a lot of folk art that they collected during this period, by 20th-century people, as well as earlier. The Whitney, the Brooklyn Museum, and all these—


JANE KALLIR:  —museums did pioneering things in that area in the '30s and '40s. But they stopped showing it, they stopped, in many cases, even displaying it, and they certainly stopped doing exhibitions of it. And in that vacuum, you have institutions like the Museum of American Folk Art that are specialized in the area, which is a mixed blessing, to some extent, because although an institution like the Museum of American Folk Art can certainly further the study of—


JANE KALLIR:  —nonacademic work in its own right, and that's very important—it's a separate but equal situation in which one knows that the separate is never equal. That's the situation that the field has been in until fairly recently. But it seems to be undergoing one of these epochal changes at the moment with things like the Parallel Visions shows—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, for the Los Angeles—

JANE KALLIR:  —at the Los Angeles County Museum. For the first time, nonacademic work seems to be taken back into the larger canon of Modernism. Where we end up, when all is said and done, I don't know, but it seems to be—


JANE KALLIR:  —a positive change.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Um, when you talked before about the determining quality, I wonder if you have had problems with fakes, particularly with people trying to sell you or, um—

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, yeah.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —Schieles, Klimts. I mean, how do you deal with that?

JANE KALLIR:  Well, it depends. Each artist is a little bit different in the kinds of problematical works that you're likely to encounter. The two artists where we've written catalogue raisonnés, and therefore are the primary sources for—


JANE KALLIR:  —authentication are, curiously enough, Egon Schiele and Grandma Moses.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  So those are the artists for whom we routinely make judgments of authenticity. And they're two very different situations. The—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Tell us about the differences and similarities.

JANE KALLIR:  I think that most fakes are innocent. Most fakes are copies that people make because they admire the work, and they don't initially intend to deceive, but the thing turns up at a flea market or a garage sale. The next thing you know, someone has bought it, thinks they have a great find. There's not a lot of money invested, and nobody's devastated when you tell them, "No, the original of this work is in the Albertina."


JANE KALLIR:  The second category of fakes—and this applies, again, equally to Schiele and Grandma Moses—is work by other artists that somebody simply wants to make into a Schiele or a Moses. That can be done by adding a fake signature, or it can be done simply by wishful thinking. People come in and they say—they insist that this must be a Schiele, and you have to tell them, "There's no reason on Earth why this should be a Schiele. It's not even signed." Or if it is signed, the signature is wrong. The signature is clearly fake. The painting itself has nothing to do with Schiele's style at any point in his development. Those are the easy cases. With Grandma Moses, it more or less ends these. Moses' work is actually very well documented: she catalogued it; she inventoried it; she numbered it. I can't really recall Moses forgeries that were done with the intent to deceive that good enough to deceive someone. Schiele forgeries are much more complicated, more sophisticated. Grandma Moses didn't do works on paper, and for some reason with both artists paintings are much more difficult to forge. Most of the really troublesome Schiele fakes are works on paper.


JANE KALLIR:  They can be attempts to imitate his style. They can be genuine drawings to which fake color is added. That's a very distinct category. And the coloring varies in quality. There can be cases in which people disagree as to whether the coloring is by Schiele or by someone else, and since the drawing itself, the matrix, is solid, the signature is okay, these things become very, very tricky.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Do you keep a list of works that have come before you—

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, yeah.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —that are considered questionable?

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, yeah.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  With photographs, and—?

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, yes.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's so valuable.

JANE KALLIR:  We have a huge fakes pile that we've accumulated over the years. We also keep a file of new works that have been discovered since the publication—


JANE KALLIR:  —of the catalogue raisonné—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Catalogue raisonné, uh-huh [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  Someday, when we get enough of them, we'll do a supplement. But I'm pleased to say that actually the works for the supplement are not multiplying very rapidly. It seems that we did a pretty good job—


JANE KALLIR:  —in getting them all. I had been hoping for more new works. I had been hoping that we would be able to come up with a revision, let's say, within five to 10 years' time, but it doesn't look like that's going to be feasible or necessary.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Your grandfather's own dissertation was somewhat of a catalogue raisonné, wasn't it, on Schiele?

JANE KALLIR:  No, his dissertation was on Peter Vischer, the Medieval artist. It was not—


JANE KALLIR:  He was not allowed to do a dissertation in his primary field.


JANE KALLIR:  He was forced—they assigned the topics in those days. And, I mean, again, ask Hildegard—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  They assigned the topic.

JANE KALLIR:  Ask Hildegard whether this was assigned or whether he was only told it has to be in another field.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure, uh-huh [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  I'm not sure. In fact, he did his doctoral dissertation and the Schiele catalogue raisonné at the same time—


JANE KALLIR:  —which is an amazing [laughs]—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That is amazing.

JANE KALLIR:  —thing to—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Now, that catalogue raisonné, when you were redoing it, did you find that that was the basis—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and extremely helpful, or you had to add a lot?

JANE KALLIR:  His catalogue raisonné of the paintings is irreplaceable. If he had not in 1930 done that book, considering what happened during the war, the number of paintings that were lost or destroyed, no one could have ever done a Schiele catalogue raisonné as complete as he did. And he himself revised it in 1966. It was really the '66 book, not the 1930 book—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I see, that you—

JANE KALLIR:  —that was the basis for what we did. In terms of the catalogue of the oils, yes, works have come up since. There are some works that have been added to the oeuvre that are not even necessarily authentic, but since they are generally accepted as such they have to be at least discussed in a catalogue raisonné. But the main thing that we did was the catalogue of the works on paper, which was entirely new—


JANE KALLIR:  —and which comprised about 2,500 or more entries. That was really the bulk of our work, revising my grandfather's 1966 catalogue of the oils was the least of it.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Well, it must be very exciting to feel that you're carrying on—

JANE KALLIR:  Oh, absolutely.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —such a rich tradition, and making such a contribution.

JANE KALLIR:  I certainly enjoy it. It's been a great deal of fun.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I just have really two more questions.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I just wanted to ask about the gallery's attitude toward museums. I know that your grandfather gave a Klimt to the Museum of Modern Art, um, in the '50s. Wasn't that—

JANE KALLIR:  No, my grandfather gave—


JANE KALLIR:  The Museum of Modern Art turned down both the Klimt and the Schiele.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  The ones that he offered?

JANE KALLIR:  Ask Hildegard about this.


JANE KALLIR:  He would have given a Klimt and a Schiele to the Museum of Modern Art, but they didn't want it. And I think—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  [Laughs.] That was in the '50s?

JANE KALLIR:  I don't know why they turned down the Klimt. They turned down the Schiele because Alfred Barr said that he doesn't think Schiele's a good painter.  MoMA did acquire a number of very good Schiele works on paper, but they did not get a painting. In fact, when they were celebrating their anniversary in, I guess, 1984, they had to go out and buy a Schiele, because they felt they had to have one. There was a huge to-do about how they would fund this. In the end they got a work from 1909, because they couldn't afford one from his mature period, which begins in 1910.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Did, did they get it from here, or they got it somewhere else from—

JANE KALLIR:  They got it from a European collection.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  A European collection, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  At that time, because it wasn't a mature work, they came to us and we gave them a 1911 watercolor to go with it, so that they would have a—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  For the exhibition.

JANE KALLIR:  No, no, as a gift.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  As a gift, mm-hmm [affirmative].


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Their collection.

JANE KALLIR:  For their collection. They own it now. But no, my grandfather couldn't get anybody to take his Klimts and Schieles in the '50s, so he gave the Klimt, in the end, to the Fogg, and the Schiele to the Guggenheim. Tom Messer was someone—


JANE KALLIR:  —who did understand.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. Well, he had a background that enabled him to understand Austrian art. Now, I know just in the present that you're continuing these exhibitions, and you're planning to have an exhibition on women during—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —Austrian Expressionists, or—?

JANE KALLIR:  Well, what we're trying to—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Maybe you'd like to conclude by telling—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —about this exhibition that's going to take place.

JANE KALLIR:  Okay. Well, as I started to say before, we are finding that it's becoming increasingly difficult to mount museum exhibitions on our own premises, and yet we want to continue to work in that vein. So we've begun to look into doing more freelance curating for other institutions, doing exhibitions that not only will be more financially feasible if they have the funding options that nonprofit institutions have open to them, but that also will probably get more attention if they're in a museum than they will here.


JANE KALLIR:  We did a Corinth show—


JANE KALLIR:  —that was much better than the one that was at the National Academy of Design, much more comprehensive.


JANE KALLIR:  And didn't get a quarter of the press that they got. So, we should've done it there. We should've done it for somebody else. It would've made more sense. It would've been of more benefit to Corinth.

[Side conversation.]

JANE KALLIR:  So we are trying to launch more projects like that. The first of these will be a major Egon Schiele retrospective that will open at the National Gallery just about a year from now, in February '94, and then travel to Indianapolis and Toronto.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, wonderful. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  And the women's show—because the Schiele show has been so demanding, the women's show is something that we seem to get to work on in spurts, and then—

[Side conversation.]

[Audio break.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Tell us about that exhibition—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —that's being planned.

JANE KALLIR:  That exhibition has been in the preliminary planning stages for a couple of years now. We get the most opportunity to work on it in the summers, when things quiet down. I'm hoping that with Schiele being put to bed in the next couple of months, we'll be able to properly move forward on it. I took an extended month-long research trip to Germany last summer to look at things, and to begin to gather the information that we need for a checklist. Once we have a checklist together, then we will be able to start offering it to institutions.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Why did you decide on women artists in Austria and Germany?

JANE KALLIR:  Actually—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Is that it, or it's—?

JANE KALLIR:  It's going to be only Germany.


JANE KALLIR:  You can't, in an exhibition like this, try to do too many things at once. Expressionism in and of itself is a controversial term. If you're going to start redefining that at the same time that you're also trying to bring women in, it's going to become too diffuse. The exhibition is called Women and Expressionism.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Oh, that's very nice.

JANE KALLIR:  Whether you would call any or many of these women Expressionists proper is a debatable point, which I'd just as soon not get into.


JANE KALLIR:  What they are is women who were working around the men during the period from 1900 to 1933, and who, for one reason or another—probably largely but not exclusively due to gender—were ignored. So it is really a rethinking of the period when Expressionism flourished that tries to take into account the contributions of women, many of whom were extremely successful in their time. These are not necessarily artists who were totally neglected and forgotten. Someone like the sculptor Milly Steger, for example—


JANE KALLIR:  —was the official sculptor of the City of Hagen, was patronized by Osthaus, was a major, recognized artist. She was counted with Lehmbruck and Barlach as one of the three top sculptors of her time, yet we—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Hardly anyone knows her.

JANE KALLIR:  Exactly. Kollwitz was extremely successful, and yet these artists always are either viewed in isolation or not at all. So that's the point of the show. Why are we doing it? Partly because we do have a founding with some of the principal artists like Kollwitz and Modersohn-Becker. And partly because it's interesting, because it seems like a project that desperately needs to be done, and that, for reasons which are really beyond me, hasn't been done. Why should there be a book about the women Surrealists, for example?


JANE KALLIR:  I'm not commenting on it favorably or negatively, but the fact is that there are a lot more women who were associated with the Expressionist movement than there are in Surrealism, and yet somehow it's not been done. So there's a real need there.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I think this will be a very forward-looking exhibit, as forward-looking as what your grandfather had started to do when he first came to this country. So I very much look forward to it.

JANE KALLIR:  Great. Well, we'll certainly keep you posted. [Laughs.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Okay. Thank you so much for the interview.

JANE KALLIR:  Okay, sure.


[Audio break.]

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Um, I just wanted to ask another question about your sense of the difference in popularity between Austrian and German art, the reception in this country. And you were talking about the Museum of Modern Art exhibition.

JANE KALLIR:  The Museum of Modern Art exhibition was certainly extremely successful, as have many of the—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  The one on Vienna.

JANE KALLIR:  As have many of these books been. Look how successful the Comini books were—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  That's right, mm-hmm [affirmative].

JANE KALLIR:  —or the Schorske book, or the Wittgenstein's Vienna book.


JANE KALLIR:  There is a certain fascination—we were talking a moment before you turned on the tape again about the fact that Kokoschka and Schiele are not as jarringly abrasive as many of the German Expressionists. And that when that work is shown in tandem with the beautiful Klimt gold paintings, and ornate silverware, and the graphic posters of the Secession, it makes a much more broadly appealing package, perhaps, than the recent exhibitions of German Expressionism, such as the one at the Guggenheim—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And you said something about that, that you think that there may be something about the decorative quality of Viennese art—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —at the turn of the century.

JANE KALLIR:  Yeah, I guess the decorative quality is something you could refer to as the King Tut phenomenon. If you have a certain amount of gold and silver and jewels, it's just got the flash and the appeal. But that doesn't entirely explain why Schiele should be popular, and he certainly is.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Mm-hmm [affirmative], that's right.

JANE KALLIR:  And it doesn't really explain why some of these cross-cultural studies, such as the Schorske and the Wittgenstein books have struck such a chord. There isn't one city that you can focus on in Germany. Somehow this hothouse idea, as Schorske calls it, the idea that there was all this stuff going on in a very confined space and period of time, is fascinating to people. Many of these intellectual developments do affect us through to the present day. It creates an intellectual framework that makes it accessible to people. The intellectual framework of German Expressionism, perhaps by comparison, is more arcane, is more something for the specialist. It's harder, perhaps, to get a handle on—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  It's more diffuse.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  And we had also then started to talk about the difference between Austrian Modernism, the reception of Austrian Modernism, and the Russian avant-garde. And you had said that you thought there was a certain—you thought it was even a greater reception of Austrian—


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  —and German art than the Russian avant-garde.

JANE KALLIR:  Certainly the Vienna 1900 show was much better received than the recent avant-garde show at the Guggenheim. A focus is important in conditioning people's reception to a particular type of art. The Russian avant-garde is very good because it is focused in a way that even the Austrian material is not.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  But in some ways the Russian avant-garde has more to do with abstraction, geometric abstraction, and maybe that could've had something to do with a certain critical reaction.

JANE KALLIR:  It's a curious thing that American art appreciation has been geared to abstraction, and particularly to the kinds of formalist rules of abstraction that were so dominant until fairly recently. But somehow, the Russian approach, or even Kandinsky's approach, have been difficult to integrate into people's overall perceptions of how abstraction should function. So there's more to it, I think, than the question whether it's just abstract or figurative.


JANE KALLIR:  It has to do with the culture out of which it comes, how alien or organic that appears to people in this country. And the fact is that German culture is alien. We fought two World Wars with them.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yeah, that certainly has to affect the reception of both German and Austrian art, even today.

JANE KALLIR:  You certainly have read some of the early things that were written before World War I. Although there was certainly national pride and divisions between the countries, I think there was a sense among many of these artists that they were embarked on an adventure together. Certainly the Austrians and the Germans were extremely enthusiastic and interested in what was going on in France. Italy, as well, for that matter. I often wonder if that war, first war, hadn't been fought, never mind the second, if things wouldn't have been very, very different. The French had cultural prohibitions. They banned Germanic art during World War I.


JANE KALLIR:  Sometimes I wonder just how lasting that has been.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. In fact, I don't know if—recently something came to our attention about how during World War I, experimental French art was called baschart [ph], German art.


ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Yes. So I think your assessment that had there not been World War I German and Austrian art might've had a much—a greater impact on the development of European art—

JANE KALLIR:  I don't think that you would've had these boundaries. I think that the boundaries that have been most influential probably were drawn not during the Second World War but during the First. During the Second World War, after all, the modern artists were declared degenerate. They weren't the bad guys, really, even though people had difficulty perceiving that in this country.

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  Sure. That's one of the great ironies is that the National Socialists called modern artists degenerate, and then you had in the '50s some of our own Congressmen calling these same artists Communists. [They laugh.] Well—

JANE KALLIR:  Okay, and—

ROSE-CAROL WASHTON LONG:  I'll turn this off.


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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Jane Kallir, 1993 Feb. 25. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.