d e c e m b e r 19, 2012
фото в мастерской George Grosz (1893 1959)

George Grosz as Sex Murderer and Eva Petra as Victim in the Artist’s Studio. 1920

George Grosz (real name Ehrenfried Groß), a German graphic artist and painter, was born in Berlin on July 26, 1893. He studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, Dresden, (1909-11) and at the Berlin College of Arts and Crafts (1911-3). In 1913 he spent nine months in Paris, attending the Atelier Colarossi, where he met and became friends with Jules Pascin. When he returned to Germany, he volunteered for military service, developed sinusitis within half a year and was demobilized. Within a year he was again drafted, but being unfit for military service, he was engaged in POW transportation.  In 1917 he was court-martialled for disobedience and a suicide attempt and sentenced to be shot; it was only the intervention of the collector Count Harry Kessler that saved him.

After World War I, inspired by the revolutionary ideas which were common among German artists, Grosz joined the German Communist Party in 1918. In 1922 he made a five-month trip to the Soviet Union, where he met Lenin and Trotsky. Grosz, who abhorred any form of dictatorship, had a very negative opinion of the situation in the Soviet Union and wrote about it in his autobiography in 1946.  Even though he dropped out of the Communist Party in 1923 after that trip, he stuck to his views until the late 1920s.

In 1924 he organized the Rote Gruppe (Red Group) of artists and in 1928 joined the Association of the Revolutionary Artists of Germany. For a while he associated with the Dadaists and the Expressionists and painted poignantly psychological portraits in the spirit of the New Objectivity. Satirical portraits of Prussian junkers, tycoons and generals were his hobbyhorse. His graphic cycles The Face of the Ruling Class (1921), Ecce Homo (1922), Retribution Will Follow! (1922-3) and The New Face of the Ruling Class (1930), the grotesque manner of which stemmed from naïve street drawings, became widely known.  His Ecce Homo showing the crucified Jesus in a gas mask and army boots attracted public attention. This intensely tragic antimilitarist manifesto brought charges of blasphemy against the artist. Anticipating the advent of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany, Grosz migrated to the USA in 1932. Most of his works were not exhibited in Germany, with the exception of those displayed at the notorious exhibition “Degenerate Art” (see Degenerate Art. 75th Anniversary of the Exhibition in Germany), a catalogue for which described works of Grosz and Otto Dix as “showing German soldiers as idiots, sexual degenerates and drunkards”. Grosz lived in the USA until 1959, shunning political activity, yet producing several pictures of sharp social criticism (Peace, 1946). By the end of his life he wrote in his autobiographical book, A Little Yes and a Big No (New York, 1946, pp. 201-2): “We were like sailboats flying our red, white or black sails against the wind. Some boats displayed the emblem of the United Front − others, that of the Communists, the Nazis or the Stahlhelm. But viewed from the distance, all these flags looked alike”.

George Gross died in West Berlin on July 6, 1959.


Additional information: Detailed biography of George Grosz




George Grosz. Thoughts and Work. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975