George Grosz is described as the saddest man in all Europe. As Uwe Schneede argued in George Grosz: The Artist in His Society, Grosz’s work cannot be placed into any clear category. Grosz was not an active founder of any art movement or a follower of well-known artists. In fact, Grosz quotes that Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso are “dull and tedious painters of sentimentality.” He personally “much preferred the Belgian artist [James] Ensor.” Grosz wanted to dig behind the exterior and puzzle out the most banal everyday routines just like Ensor’s work displayed. With such inspiration, Grosz made the everyday routines of the ruling class the subject of his caricature. This use of caricature helped him point out the flaws in everything from societal norms to political decisions. The most well-noted piece considering society and politics is the piece Pillars of Society. Considered by many to be his masterpiece, this work when considered closely is nothing more than a recycling of older characters. A year prior to Pillars of Society, Grosz drew a caricature entitled The Ruling Class which included nearly the same exact subject and characters. Pillars of Society is nothing more than the embodiment of Grosz’s exhaustion and resignation from political affairs. When compared to Dedication to Oskar Panizza, Pillars of Society does not have the same biting satire and sense of idealism described by Schneede. In this comparison, one can readily see Grosz’s exhaustion and agitation with German Weimar society.
Tiffany Ghearing, ’11 Lees Summit, MO
Majors: German, Art and Art History
Sponsor: Sarah Clunis