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George Grosz (1893 - 1959)

Related: Dada - degenerate art expo - photomontage - Weimar culture - German art

A deeply disillusioned man, he saw humanity as essentially bestial and the city of Berlin as a sink of depravity and deprivation, its streets crowded with unprincipled profiteers, prostitutes, war-crippled dregs and a variety of peverts. A communist, his feeling of social outrage stimulated him to produce the most biting drawings and paintings. -- Trewin Copplestone

In Grosz's Germany, everything and everybody is for sale. All human transactions, except for the class solidarity of the workers, are poisoned. The world is owned by four breeds of pig: the capitalist, the officer, the priest and the hooker, whose other form is the sociable wife. He was one of the hanging judges of art. -- Robert Hughes

My aim is to be understood by everyone. I reject the 'depth' that people demand nowadays, into which you can never descend without a diving bell crammed with cabbalistic bullshit and intellectual metaphysics. This expressionistic anarchy has got to stop... a day will come when the artist will no longer be this bohemian, puffed-up anarchist but a healthy man working in clarity within a collectivist society. -- Grosz


George Grosz (July 26, 1893 - July 6, 1959) was a prominent member of the Berlin dadaist art movement. He was born Georg Gross but changed his name because he did not want a German name. (His artist friend and collaborator Helmut Herzfeld changed his name to John Heartfield at the same time.)

In 1914 Grosz enlisted in the German army, before the general draft. He was released as unfit for service because of health after less than two years. His sinuses were given as the official reason, but his time in a military mental hospital probably had more to do with his release.

Grosz was arrested during the Spartakus uprising in January 1919, but escaped using fake identification documents; He joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the same year. In 1921 Grosz he was accused of insulting the army, which resulted in a 300 German Mark fine and the destruction of the collection Gott mit uns ("God with us"). Grosz left the KPD in 1922 after having spent five months in Russia and meeting Lenin and Trotsky, because of his antagonism to any form of dictatorial authority.

His drawings, many of them ink and water color, have contributed greatly to the image most have of Berlin and the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, gross businessmen, wounded soldiers, prostitutes, and orgies were his great subjects. His draftsmanship was excellent and although he made a few absurd art works, such as "Remember Uncle August the Happy Inventor" which had buttons sewn on it (see it here), most of his works were realistic, as in these drawings in the World Museum of Erotic Art.

He was bitterly anti-Nazi and left Germany in 1933 and lived in New York City as an art professor and painter until 1958. He bacame a United States citizen, but returned to Germany where he lived briefly. Grosz died on July 6 1959 from the effects of a night of drinking . --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Grosz, Feb 2004

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