George Grosz

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Grosz, George

(grōs), 1893–1959, German-American caricaturist, draughtsman, and painter, b. Berlin. Before and during World War I he contributed drawings on proletarian themes to Illustration and other German periodicals. He was associated with the Dada group at that time. In postwar Germany, Grosz was famous for his vitriolic, satirical drawings attacking the corruption of German bourgeois society. On three occasions he was brought to trial by the state for allegedly defaming public morals and for blasphemy. In his caricatures he evoked a nightmare world, an inferno, made credible with a few jagged pen-and-ink lines. In 1924, Grosz began to paint, and in 1933 he accepted a position as art instructor at the Art Students League, New York City. He became a U.S. citizen in 1938. At first the fiery work of his German period was supplanted by a more traditional rendering of figures and landscapes. However, World War II impelled him to create a symbolic series of ravaged figures. His drawing Street Scene (Philadelphia Mus. of Art) is characteristic. Other works are at the Museum of Modern Art. Two collections of his drawings were published in 1944.


See his autobiography, A Little Yes and a Big No (tr. 1946) and Ecce Homo (new ed. 1966); biographies by H. Hess (1985) and M. K. Flavell (1988).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Grosz, George


(pseudonym of Georg Ehrenfried). Born July 26, 1893. in Berlin; died July 6. 1959, in West Berlin. German painter and graphic artist.

Grosz studied at the Academy of Arts in Dresden (1909–11) and at the school of industrial arts in Berlin (1911–13). From 1918 he was a member of the Communist Party of Germany, and he was the organizer of the so-called Red Group of artists (1924). In 1928, Grosz became a member of the Association of Revolutionary Artists of Germany in Berlin. For a time he was associated with Dadaism and expressionism, and he painted sharply psychological portraits in the spirit of the “new objectivity.” His graphic cycles of works (lithographs, drawings, and watercolors) became widely known. Among them are The Face of the Ruling Class (1921). Ecce Homo (1922), Retribution Will Follow! (1922–23). and The New Face of the Ruling Class (1930). Their savagely grotesque style was influenced by simple graffiti. In these works Grosz maliciously and caustically exposed the egoism, cruelty, and corruption of the bourgeoisie and the inhumanity of militarism, and he revealed the horrors of the poverty and disfranchisement of the people and the growing awareness of the working class. From 1932 to 1959, Grosz lived in the USA, where he did not participate in politics but created a number of pointedly critical social paintings (Peace, 1946, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York).


A Little Yes and a Big No. New York, 1946.


[S”edin. V.] Georg Gross. Moscow-Leningrad. 1931.
Lang, L. (ed.). George Grosz. Berlin. 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Grosz, George

(1893–1959) graphic artist, painter; born in Berlin, Germany. He studied art in Dresden and Berlin and served in the German army in World War I. After years of producing drawings that bitterly satirized middle-class complacency, militarism, and Nazism, he emigrated to New York City in 1932, eventually establishing his studio on Long Island. Early associated with Dadaism, the movement that embraced the absurdity of life, he became known as the printmaker and painter who was a sophisticated realist; his later oils were more symbolic in nature. In 1959 he returned to Berlin where he died.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.