Born. 26.07.1893 in Berlin
Died. 06.07.1959 in Berlin
German-American painter, graphic artist, cartoonist, New Objectivity, Expressionist
About the artist
Grosz was born Georg Ehrenfried Groß on 26 June 1893 in Berlin, the third of three children. He grew up in the town of Stolp (now Słupsk, Poland).] After his father died in 1900, the family moved to the Wedding district of Berlin. After his cousin had seen his work, he convinced Grosz to attend weekly drawing classes taught by a local painter named Grot. Grosz honed his skills by drawing detailed copies of the drinking scenes of Eduard von Grützner and sketching imaginary battle scenes.
After being expelled from school in 1908 for insubordination, he attended the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts from 1909 to 1911, where he was taught by Raphael Wehle, Osmar Schindler, Richard Müller, and Robert Sterl. In 1910, His first drawing to be published was in the satirical magazine Ulk. He started painting in oils in 1912 whilst studying at the Berlin College of Arts and Crafts, under tuition from Emil Orlik.
In 1916 he changed the spelling of his name to “de-Germanise” and to have a more international style, adding an “e“ to Georg gave it an English spelling, while in his surname he replaced the German “ß” with its phonetic equivalent “sz”. This was done purely as a protest against German nationalism and with his enthusiasm for America
Grosz was drafted for military service in January 1917, only to be discharged in May as he was permanently unfit.
In 1928 he was prosecuted for blasphemy after publishing anticlerical drawings. Grosz “publicly stated that he was neither Christian nor pacifist, but was actively motivated by an inner need to create the pictures”, fortunately, he was acquitted after two appeals.
Grosz left Germany shortly before Hitler came to power as he was against the Nazi regime. In June 1932, he taught a summer semester at the Art Students League of New York. After briefly returning to Germany, he and his family emigrated back to the United States on January 12, 1933, becoming naturalized citizens of the U.S. in 1938. In the 1930s he taught at the Art Students League, where he would continue to work intermittently until 1955.
Whilst in America, Grosz decided to leave his past behind him, changing his artistic style and subject matter. He held regular exhibitions and published his autobiography, A Little Yes and a Big No in 1946. In the 1950s he opened a private art school at his home and also worked as Artist in Residence at the Des Moines Art Center. Even though he had U.S. citizenship, he decided to return to Berlin in May 1959. He died two months later when he fell down a flight of stairs after a night of drinking.