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Kallir, Otto

American, born Austria, 1894 - 1978

Nirenstein, Otto

Biography

Founder of the Galerie St. Etienne in New York, Kallir was born Otto Nirenstein, and changed his surname to Kallir in 1933. Kallir's first career was in art publishing in his native Vienna. In 1923 he opened the Neue Galerie in Vienna, where he held the first major exhibition of Egon Schiele's work in Europe. In 1930 Kallir published a catalogue raisonné of Schiele's work, and in 1931 earned his Ph.D. in art history from the University of Vienna. Shortly after the Nazis occupied Austria in 1938, Kallir and his family left for Switzerland, and then went to Paris where he opened the first Galerie St. Etienne. Kallir opened his New York branch on 13 November 1939 with an exhibition titled "Works of Austrian Masters." The Galerie St. Etienne introduced a number of noteworthy German and Austrian artists, such as Oskar Kokoschka, Gustav Klimt, Alfred Kubin, and Kathe Kollwitz, at a time when this art was practically unheard of in America. In addition to 20th century German and Austrian artists, the gallery also emphasized 19th century art of other nations. Kallir was also known as the "discoverer" of American naive artist Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses, as his gallery held her first one-woman show in 1940. Kallir later wrote a biography of Moses.

Bibliography
1978
New York Times Biographical Service. December, 1978:1199 [obituary of Otto Kallir]
2003
Lillie, Sophie. Was Einmal War: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens. Vienna, 2003: 541-545.
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