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Artists George Grosz
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George Grosz

German Draftsman and Painter

Movements and Styles: Dada, New Objectivity

Born: July 26, 1893 - Berlin, Germany

Died: July 6, 1959 - Berlin, Germany

George Grosz Timeline

Quotes

"...I considered any art pointless if it did not put itself at the disposal of political struggle....my art was to be a gun and a sword."
George Grosz
"It's an old ploy of the bourgeoisie. They keep standing 'art' to defend their collapsing culture."
George Grosz
"What I had discerned from the pre-war period could be summed up as follows: human beings are swine. All the prattle about ethics is a swindle, intended for the stupid. There is no point to life than to satisfy one's hunger for food and women. The soul does not exist."
George Grosz
"What did the Dadaists do? They said this: huff and puff as much as you like - the shooting goes on, the usury goes on, the starving goes on. What earthly good is art? Was it not totally ridiculous when art took itself seriously and no one else did? Hands off holy art, screamed the opponents of Dadaism. Why did the same gentlemen forget to scream when their artistic monuments were shot at and their colleagues raped and murdered?"
George Grosz
"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
"The bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie have armed themselves agains the rising proletariat with, among other things, 'culture.'"
George Grosz

"I was arrogant enough to call myself a natural scientist, not a painter, nor, heaven forbid, a satirist. But in reality I myself was everybody I drew, the rich man favored by fate, stuffing himself and guzzling champagne, as much as the one who stood outside in the pouring rain holding out his hand. I was, as it were, divided into two."

George Grosz Signature

Synopsis

George Grosz is one of the principal artists associated with the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement, along with Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, and was a member of the Berlin Dada group. After observing the horrors of war as a soldier in World War I, Grosz focused his art on social critique. He became deeply involved in left wing pacifist activity, publishing drawings in many satirical and critical periodicals and participating in protests and social upheavals. His drawings and paintings from the Weimar era sharply criticize what Grosz viewed as the decay of German society. Shortly before Hitler seized power, Grosz moved to America to teach art and thus avoided Nazi persecution when his work was deemed "degenerate." His later style changed sharply due to his loss of faith in humanity, shifting from political propaganda to caricatures of the inhabitants of New York City and romantic landscapes. The traumatic experiences that drove George Grosz to rally against war, corruption, and what he saw as an immoral society created a particularly affecting and indelible artistic legacy. As a symbol of the revolution in Germany, his art was instrumental in awakening the general public to the reality of government oppression.

Key Ideas

George Grosz honed his skill for satire in his early illustrations of Berlin night-life while still an art student. He combined his skill for draughtsmanship with the influence of Cubist and Futurist modes of representing space to create an individual, yet objective social-realist style that could accurately convey his critical vision of contemporary society.
The figures that inhabit Grosz's art are typically not specific individuals, but rather allegorical figures representative of the different classes and the various plights of German society between the world wars. The use of allegory allowed Grosz to present a biting critique of this society without straying too far from the ideal of portraying a modern vision of reality.
Grosz synthesized two distinct and long-standing traditions within German art history with his own perspective to create his unique style. Combining the linear quality of the historic graphic tradition with German Gothic art's penchant for brutally grotesque imagery, Grosz utilized these traditional modes to add further emphasis to his contemporary moral perspective.
Grosz's most critical works are typically executed in pen and ink, and occasionally he worked into them with watercolors. Many of his drawings were reproduced in periodicals and journals, which circulated Grosz's images among various radical groups and the working class. The immediacy of these drawings and their reproductions allowed them to clearly convey Grosz's commentary on the modern world to a more diverse audience than a singular painting in a gallery or museum could.

Biography

George Grosz Photo

Childhood

Georg Ehrenfried Groß was the youngest child born to Karl and Marie Wilhelmine Groß. He lived with his two older sisters in a Berlin public house, owned and managed by his parents, until the business failed in 1899. The family moved to Stolp, a rural town on the northeastern coast (now part of Poland), where Karl, a Freemason, had secured a position as the local lodge caretaker. His death in the following year compelled the Groß family to return to Berlin, where Georg's mother and sisters made a living by sewing.

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George Grosz Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
George Grosz
Interactive chart with George Grosz's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Honoré DaumierHonoré Daumier
James EnsorJames Ensor
Lyonel FeiningerLyonel Feininger

Personal Contacts

Jules PascinJules Pascin
Rudolf SchlichterRudolf Schlichter

Movements

Art NouveauArt Nouveau
ExpressionismExpressionism
FuturismFuturism

Influences on Artist
George Grosz
George Grosz
Years Worked: 1910 - 1959
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Romare BeardenRomare Bearden
Max BeckmannMax Beckmann
Otto DixOtto Dix
Lucian FreudLucian Freud

Personal Contacts

John HeartfieldJohn Heartfield
Hannah HöchHannah Höch

Movements

DadaDada
Pop ArtPop Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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