Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ABC Wednesday - G

G if for George Grosz
(July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959)
 German-born, American artist known for painting, drawing and caricatures

George Grosz gave a fantastic testimony of Berlin life during a terrible period, divided between fascism and communism. He was active in the communist party but had an anarchist’s fascination for the characters of underground life. Military figures, prostitutes and violence abound, and fascinate the viewer.


  The Love Sick Man

 The Suicide

In 1921 his album "Gott mit uns" (God with us) brought Grosz charges of defaming the Reichswehr (army); in 1924 he was prosecuted for offences against public morality by his album "Ecce Homo" (the album was confiscated as being pornographic); in 1928 for his drawing "Shut up and keep serving the cause" he was accused of blasphemy. All these scandals only helped consolidate his fame. Olga's Gallery


 Remembering Uncle August

 The White Slave

"I don't even like to talk about it. I hated being a number and not merely because I was a very small one. I let them bellow at me for just as long as it took me to find enough pluck to bellow back at them."

 Eclipse of the Sun

 Artist and Model

In the early 1930's,  Grosz was invited to lecture at the Arts Student League in NY, after being forced to flee from Nazi Germany. In 1938, Grosz's wife and sons joined him. He became a naturalized citizen in 1938.
Here is what Grosz had to say about that period of work in the United States:

  "My motto was now to give offense to none and be pleasing to all. Assimilation is straightforward once one overcomes the greatly overvalued superstition concerning character. To have character generally means that one is distinctly inflexible, not necessarily for reasons of age. Anyone who plans to get ahead and make money would do well to have no character at all. The second rule for fitting in is to think everything beautiful! Everything – that is to say, including things that are not beautiful in reality." 

NoteI had a difficult time finding an example of what Grosz may have meant when he referred to work with "no character" , which appears to distinguish his period of work in from the early 1930's until just before his return to Berlin in the late 1950's.  I found an image of the painting below, which may or may not be what he was referring to and what critics called an uninteresting time in his career. Certainly, his early paintings are the stand-outs, in my opinion. But then again, I am a huge fan of expressionism and I find the Dad movement fascinating. 
 Nude in the Dunes

 Eva Grosz
(the artist's wife)

 The Survivor" by George Grosz 
Private Collection
"I had grown up in a humanist atmosphere, and war to me was never anything but horror, mutilation and senseless destruction, and I knew that many great and wise people felt the same way about it. "
George Grosz

George Grosz sketches or caricatures of The Weimer Republic

"The war was a mirror; it reflected man's every virtue and every vice, and if you looked closely, like an artist at his drawings, it showed up both with unusual clarity."
George Grosz


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  1. Interesting line between art-erotica-pornography; re the latter, as Potter Stewart famously said, "I know it when I see it." So too the German officials of 90 years ago.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. Wow, I hadn't known him up to now! Thanks, Gina.

    The Weimar period is fascinating, a culture full of contradictions leading tragically to unthinkably brutal catastrophe ...

  3. Very interesting.

    Please visit my first ABC entry, thank you and nice to meet you through ABC.

  4. So many artists, so little time...

    Another fine enlightenment for this country boy!

  5. Roger and Ms. Burrito - thanks for your comments.

    Francis - yes. Through art I am often drawn toward an interest in history that perhaps I lacked interest in at one point when I was expected to learn it!

    CR - why, you're not a country boy! You once went to The Guggenheim and you wore a suit, right? ;-) "New York, just like I pictured it" - :-D

  6. One of my all time favorite films is 'Cabaret!' and his early work perfectly encapsulates that extraordinary period of history. We'd do well to remember the lessons.

    Another well thought out and excellent post, Gina.

  7. ahead of his time...

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral


  8. I'm all for offending public morality, which has served no purpose and produced no good!

    An interesting artist. You learned me something. Thanks!

  9. "Art" is in the eye of the artist, I guess - and the beholder. Can't say as I particularly like this type of art, but I'm sure he has his following. Interesting post about a fascinating man, though. Have a great week,

    ABCW Team

  10. Interesting and informative post. His paintings span the gamut of types and styles. I like the self-portrait in particular.

  11. Susan - Yes! I love Cabaret. One of the few musicals I truly enjoyed. And thank you, my friend. Sending a hug.

    Cloudia - I like your fish! ;-)

    Sandy - you said it!

    Leslie - I try to focus on non-mainstream art, though I love a beautiful Monet waterlily painting as much as the next guy, too. ;-)

    Tumblewords - the self-portrait is excellent, isn't it? Grosz could certainly paint, even if he is not every person's cup of tea. Thanks for visiting.

  12. Great entry as usual! I first knew Grosz from studying history -- his caricatures of the Weimar period are often used. I think he is a magnificent painter and imaginative in the conception of the works. I can see the images from the American period as "no character" when compared to earlier work. But the 1944 Survivor is strong and moving, Goya-like in tone.


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