Art of the Week

George Grosz (1893-1959)
The End of a Perfect Day, 1939
Drypoint, 27 x 34 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

George Grosz was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1893. After studying art in Dresden and Berlin he began contributing cartoons to German journals such as Ulk and Lustige Blatter. On the outbreak of the First World War, Grosz was conscripted into the German Army. A strong opponent of the war, he was eventually released as unfit for duty. However, the following year, desperate for soldiers, Grosz was called up again. Kept from frontline action, Grosz was used to transport and guard prisoners of war. After trying to commit suicide in 1917, Grosz was placed in an army hospital. It was decided to execute Grosz, but he was saved by the intervention of one of his patrons, Count Kessler. Grosz was then diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock and was discharged from the German Army. In 1917, Grosz joined with John Heartfield in protesting German wartime propaganda campaign against the allies. After the Armistice, Grosz was active in left-wing politics and contributed to communist journals published by Malik-Verlag. He also joined with artists such as John Heartfield, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters to form the German Dada group. Grosz’ drawings often attacked members of the government and important business leaders. Grosz was taken to court several times, but although heavily fined, managed to escape imprisonment. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Grosz directed his attacks against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. In 1932, Grosz was forced to flee from Nazi Germany and after settling in the United States became a naturalized citizen in 1938. His memoirs, The Autobiography of George Grosz was published in 1955. George Grosz returned to Germany in 1959, saying “My American dream turned out to be a soap bubble”. He died shortly after his arrival following a fall down a flight of stairs.

Flavell, M. Kay. George Grosz, a biography.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.
Lewis, Beth Irwin. George Grosz: art and politics in the Weimar Republic.Madison, University of Wisconsin Press [1971]


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