Wednesday, September 10, 2014

George Grosz

Eclipse of the Sun
oil on canvas
207.3 x 182.6 cm
The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntingdon, New York, USA

The painting is a scathing indictment of the military-industrial complex and of materialism, featuring an industrialist, a general, and four headless members of the bourgeoisie, all under a sun that is obscured by a dollar sign.

George Grosz (1893-1959), born in Berlin, was a leading member of the Dada movement. He is known for his fiercely satirical drawings and caricatures. 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.

An uncompromising opponent of militarism and National Socialism, he was one of the first German artists to attack Adolf Hitler. He painted many caustic works criticizing the rise of Nazism. Like many artists who fled Europe, he immigrated to the United States in 1932, settling in Bayside, Queens and teaching at the Art Students League in New York. He 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 his art became increasingly despairing. He returned to Germany in May 1959 to live out his days, but died from a fall down a flight of stairs within weeks of his return.