George Grosz (1893-1959)

George Grosz was a "German American expressionist painter and illustrator. Born in Berlin, he studied art at the Royal Academy, Dresden, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, and the Academie Colarossi, Paris, and served in the army in World War I (1914-1918)."[1] Grosz ended his war service in a hospital for the shell-shocked suffering from what we would call today post-traumatic stress syndrome.

A man of the left, Grosz never belonged to any political party or group although he did work for the Spartacists. He was also briefly a member of the Dada movement. The prime targets of his satirical drawings and caricatures were industrialists, military officers and clergymen.

"Collections of these drawings, concerned with conditions in Germany at the end of World War I, appeared in Ecce homo (Behold the Man, 1923) and Das Gesicht der Herrschenden Klasse (The Face of the Ruling Class, 1921). Republican Automatons (1920) reflects his view of modern man as a machine.

An uncompromising opponent of militarism and National Socialism, Grosz was one of the first German artists to attack Adolf Hitler. Grosz went to the United States in 1932 and became a citizen in 1938. From about 1936 he began to work also in oils and turned to less biting themes, depicting nudes, still lifes and street scenes. With the approach of World War II (1939-1945) his art became increasingly despairing. Recognized as one of the most brilliant draftsmen of his time, Grosz was also well known as a teacher. An account of his experiences as an artist appears in his autobiography ( A Little Yes and a Big NO 1946). He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954, and in 1959, shortly before his death, resettled in Berlin."[2]

Grosz called himself a profound pessimist with little faith in the future or in most people yet he relentlessly criticized the Weimar Republic for its shortcomings and its lack of sufficient reform.

Links to other information about George Grosz:

Additional Resources:

  • Art-cyclopedia: George Grosz. An excellent reference site on Grosz. This is a great starting point for web exploration.
  • This website on Grosz contains a bio as well as some examples of his drawings.
  • George Grosz, George Grosz: An Autobiography (University of California Press) 1998.
  • John Willett, Art and Politics in the Weimar Period: The New Sobriety 1917-1933 (De Capo Press, New York) 1996.


[1] "Grosz, George," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001.

[2] Ibid.

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