George Grosz: Pointing a Finger at Beaurocracy

Early 20th century Germany was an ideological melting pot for both artists and society.Dealing with both an industrial revolution that had quickly urbanized many areas of Germany and the destruction and defeat in WWI, artists were quickly rebelling against the society which they thought had failed them.Using non-traditional, expressive mark making and new interpretations of subject matter, the German Expressionist movement began to take form. These artists sought refuge from industrialization by returning to "primitive" subject matter and technique in an attempt to draw closer to nature. One of the artists in this movement was George Grosz, who was known for his highly sociopolitical works that cast a critical eye on contemporary society.After briefly discussing the history of Grosz and the background of the German Expressionist movement, I will examine how his lithograph, Street in Berlin Friedrichstrasse, reflects to the political climate in which it was created, and how it directly relates to the German Expressionist style.
George Grosz, born in Berlin in 1893, was raised in Germany and attended the Royal Academy of Art in Dresden from 1911-1912. He began his career as a cartoonist, creating caricatures and quick sketches. After serving two terms in the army during WWI, Grosz became disillusioned with the German capitalist society, and eventually became a member of the German Communist Party in Berlin for a short while. For many of the German Expressionist artists, "primitivism" was their main influence and subject matter; Grosz, however, turned to political and sociological themes in his prints, paintings and drawings.His disillusionment with the war and the visible social distinction between the working class and upper class was fodder for many of his anti-military statements and anti-bourgeoisie art.As an active member in the Communist Party, he sought to create that would reflect the politica…

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