London gallery Richard Nagy is running a major exhibition dedicated to the work of George Grosz (1893-1959).
Some 50 works by the German satirical artist and World War I veteran have been assembled from leading private and public collections around the world.
The works in this exhibition typify Grosz’s distrust and dislike of many aspects of bourgeois life in Germany in the inter-war period. His depiction of military generals in works such as Vor der Kaserne (In front of the Barracks) (1918) also shows his hatred of German militarism and its consequences for the ordinary citizen.
Grosz was fascinated by cosmopolitan Berlin in the 1920s and his works depict a grim, often nightmarish world of crime, murder and sensuality.
Another frequent aspect of his work are the crippled veterans of World War I who, lacking legs, arms or noses, often appear in the background – generally reduced to begging or unemployment.
One highlight of the exhibition is an important work that was recently discovered in a private collection and has never been shown outside Germany. It is an earlier, watercolour version of an oil painting entitled Deutschland, Ein Wintermärchen (Germany, a Winter’s Tale) (1918), which was probably destroyed in the early 1930s.
In the centre of the image a plump bourgeois nationalist sits at a dinner table with knife and fork at the ready. Around him brothels, factories and tenement buildings can be seen, while establishment figures from banking, church and army lurk in the background, hoping to profit from the sufferings of others.
The Richard Nagy show will benefit Global Witness, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to protecting communities and their environments from the abuses that result from natural resource-related conflict and corruption.
Patrick Alley, director of Global Witness, said: ‘We are delighted that Global Witness will share a platform with this fascinating and timely George Grosz exhibition. Being so savagely critical of corruption and injustice, his work resonates strongly with our campaigns to tackle the international systems, and political, financial and economic norms which exacerbate these problems.’
The exhibition runs until 2 November.
To find out more about Global Witness, click here
A great master