George Grosz (Berlin 1893 - Berlin 1959)

  • Lady Hamilton

The socio-critical painter and draughtsman Georg Ehrenfried Grosz was born in Berlin on 26 July 1893. He studied at the Academy of Art in Dresden and from 1912 to 1917 at the College of Applied Art in Berlin with Emil Orlik. He also served briefly in the First World War. He soon became renowned in the art world for his literary pieces and illustrations in satirical journals, for example for Simplicissimus. In 1916 he changed his name to George Grosz. In 1919 he organized the ‘First International Dada Art Fair’ in Berlin with Hausmann and Heartfield, and in 1920 created a Dada puppet theatre. Grosz published satirical journals, completed several portfolios and designed stages sets. The aggressive and provocative subjects of his pictures often brought him into conflict with the judiciary. In 1933 he emigrated to the USA, before the Nazis denounced his pictures as degenerate. He became an American citizen in 1938, but did not achieve the success and recognition of his Berlin period in his adopted country. He returned to Germany and died that same year on 6 July 1959.
As chronicler and critic of his time, George Grosz developed into one of the most caustic satirists in German art. With psychological incisiveness combined with matter-of-fact exactitude, he denounced the class oppositions of the Weimar Republic and the perversities of city life in boldly expressive pictures. He absorbed Cubist and Fauvist elements, yet he favoured a more widely understandable, realistic style. In his late career in the USA his work became less political and more decorative and he concentrated on painterly motifs like still lifes, nudes and landscapes.