George Grosz was a German artist caught in the between war and the rise of the Nazi party. By using satire, Grosz expressed his politics and general pessimism towards modern society. Characters are twisted exaggerations and each scene is rich in iniquity.
While he is known now for his deeply political works, George Grosz was not always political. Born to a lower middle class family in a small town in Pomerania, Grosz could often be found reading trashy novels, satire magazines rich in caricatures, and other escapist works. These would become the foundation of his style. Melodramatic gestures conveying simple truths, sensationalism, and realism fused together. Using this as his base, George Grosz created a unique and recognizable style.
He joined the Dada movement in 1917, to protest the war. He participated in the first Dada publications and exhibitions. By 1918 he was considered by many to be Germany’s leading social critic through his art.
Shortly before Hitler came to power George Grosz accepted an invitation to teach the summer semester at the Art Students League of New York. This allowed him to escape to America and he was given citizenship in 1938. The Nazis’ Degenerate Art exhibition in 1937 included over 200 of his drawings, which were confiscated and later destroyed.
A retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1941 secured his fame in the United States. However, sales were not enough to support him alone, so he continued to teach. He also suffered from depression and heavy drinking. Grosz died upon his return to Berlin in 1959. George Grosz inspired many future artists such as Romare Bearden, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud.