George Grosz

George Grosz (July 26, 1893 - July 6, 1959) was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group. He was born Georg Groß but changed his name because he did not want a German name. (His artist friend and collaborator Helmut Herzfeld changed his name to John Heartfield at the same time.)

In 1914 Grosz enlisted in the German army, before the general draft. He was released as unfit for service because of health after less than two years. His sinuses were given as the official reason, but his time in a military mental hospital probably had more to do with his release.

Grosz was arrested during the Spartakus uprising in January 1919, but escaped using fake identification documents; He joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the same year. In 1921 Grosz was accused of insulting the army, which resulted in a 300 German Mark fine and the destruction of the collection Gott mit uns ("God with us"), a satire on German society. Grosz left the KPD in 1922 after having spent five months in Russia and meeting Lenin and Trotsky, because of his antagonism to any form of dictatorial authority.

His drawings, many of them ink and water color, have contributed greatly to the image most have of Berlin and the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, gross businessmen, wounded soldiers, prostitutes, and orgies were his great subjects. His draftsmanship was excellent and although he made a few absurd art works, such as "Remember Uncle August the Happy Inventor" which had buttons sewn on it (see it here), most of his works were realistic, as in these drawings in the World Museum of Erotic Art.

He was bitterly anti-Nazi, left Germany in 1932, was invited to teach at the Art Students League in New York on 1933 and he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938. He painted Cain, or Hitler in Hell in 1944 showing the dead attacking Hitler in Hell. After leaving Germany, Grosz lived in New York City as an art professor and painter until 1958. Even though he had American citizenship, he returned to Germany where he lived briefly. Grosz died on July 6, 1959 from the effects of a night of drinking.