George Grosz

Born 1893. Died 1959.
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George Grosz Biography

Leading artist of the New Objectivity movement, George Grosz produced drawings, prints and paintings that condemned political corruption and social injustice during the interwar period in Germany through a lens of sharp critical satire. Grosz synthesized caricatures and symbolic representations of recognizable political figures with the abstraction of Futurism and Cubism along with the aesthetics of popular illustration. As a whole, his oeuvre harshly lampoons the capitalist and militarist forces perpetuating the interwar global crisis, the failing bureaucratic systems of Weimar Germany, and the rising threat of nationalism he witnessed during those years.

Born in 1893, Grosz trained at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and the Berlin College of Arts and Crafts, studying under Robert Sterl and Osmar Schindler. He became a leading member of the Berlin Dada group, and collaborated with colleagues including John Heartfield. Both artists had changed their given names – Georg Groß and Helmut Herzfeld – to anglicized versions in protest of the growing German nationalism.

During the interwar years, Grosz produced a series of important political drawings based on his time at a convalescent clinic following the First World War, which harshly condemned the military system and immoral doctors who forced unfit soldiers back into battle, or failed to treat survivors. These were followed by a series of paintings, which mocked the German voters as automatons conned by propaganda and self-serving politicians, as well as the debauched antics of the upper and middle classes who ignored the rising rates of poverty. In January 1933, the same month Hitler became chancellor, Grosz immigrated to America, where he taught the Art Students League, and developed his own compositions further into abstraction.

Considered one of the most important political artists of the 20th century, Grosz’s works are on view at major modern art institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid; the Tate Modern, London; and many others.

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