Front Cover – George Grosz – The Pillars of Society – 1926 

The career of George Grosz is the perfect example of an artist's life tied insep­arably to the historical, social and political movements of the age and lived in response to them. Grosz was born on 26 July 1893 in Berlin, three years after Chancellor Bismarck's dismissal by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Growing up in the Kaiser's empire, Grosz volunteered on the outbreak of war in 1914 but in 1915 was discharged, unfit for service; in 1917 he was called up again, only to be discharged for good soon after. Following the revolution in Russia, an art­ists' association, the "November Group" was established in Berlin in 1918, and Grosz joined. At the end of that year he became a member of the Com­munist Party. His drawings, tartly critical of society, appeared in various Malik publications; Grosz also produced portfo­lios and books. In 1921 he was prosecuted for defamation of the Reichswehr (army); in 1924 for offences against public morality; in 1928 for blasphemy. In 1932, in­vited to lecture to the Arts Student League in New York, Grosz visited the USA, and the following year emigrated there together with his wife. In the American years, Grosz retreated somewhat from his former positions; his analyses of the age took on a generalized apocalyptic tone, and, apparently becoming resigned, he turned increasingly to landscape painting. In the late 20s and early 30s, and in America, Grosz's subject matter and style underwent a change. In the context of the period, and as part of his own development, the change was consistent. Philosopher Gunther Anders has observed of Grosz's post-1930 art: "No one was more aware than Grosz himself of how absurd it would have been to persist in lambasting targets that were already figures of the past or forgotten ghosts of yesteryear."

Two statements Grosz made early in his career highlight the continuity in his thought. In 1917 he co-founded the Berlin wing of the Dada movement. Every member was assigned a function, Grosz's being designated as "propa-gandada". On his calling card, under his job description, was printed the question, "What shall I think tomorrow?"

George Grosz 1893-1959 Ivo Kranzfelder