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Metropolis
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More about Metropolis

ddeveaux's picture

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A lot of artists of George Grosz’s day were captivated by the idea of a bustling new modern cityscape, but Grosz had an especially harsh take.

Turning the Futurists’ glorification of the big modern city on its head, Grosz focused on the underbelly, depicting his Metropolis in pure chaos. He saw the modern world as headed towards a fatal destiny, a snake about to eat it’s tail. Dehumanization and violence are all prevalent themes here, echoing the horrors he witnessed during his time as a soldier. 

You could call Grosz a bit of a pessimist because he was quoted as saying “I was rebellious and tried to use my art to convince the world of its ugliness, sickness and hypocrisy.” Early in his career, Grosz was influenced by the likes of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and his illustrations sometimes had a hint of humor to them. Then World War I happened, changing his world view. Grosz wasn’t patriotic and didn’t buy into the glorification of fighting and his country's support of the so-called “Great War." Metropolis was painted in the midst of World War I, and his work was interrupted when he was drafted. Initially, Grosz volunteered for military duty, but received a medical discharge in 1915. His return to the front lines and subsequent time in war hospitals changed him and, after being sent for a time to a mental asylum, he was definitively discharged later in 1917 for being "unfit." 

Grosz wanted to portray the victims of war in his art, with commentary against the bourgeoisie who were getting rich off their booming industries while young men fought and died. He fought against injustice with the political statements in his art, speaking against German brutality. Originally, his name was spelled Georg but he changed it to George because he resented anything he saw as being typically German.

Grosz often satirized social classes in his work, usually classes with a seat of power he saw as abusing their positions to victimize others. Safe to say, people of said social classes weren’t fond of this. On three occasions he was fined for “blasphemous” and “pornographic” illustrations. When Nazism started to take over, Metropolis was showcased in the exhibition "Entartete Kunst" which translates to “degenerate art.” The Nazis didn’t like modern art so they tried to defame it, even selling Metropolis to raise money for the rearmament program. Grosz left Germany on the onset of the Third Reich in 1933, and though the Nazi regime also destroyed some of his art, he was likely proud to be one of their most hated artists. 

 

Sources

Sources

  1. Elger, Dietmar, Ingo F. Walther, and Hugh Beyer. Expressionism: A Revolution in German Art. Köln: Taschen, 2018.
  2. Grosz, George. "Metropolis." Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Accessed February 24, 2021. https://www.museothyssen.org/en/collection/artists/grosz-george/metropolis #:~:text=George Grosz&text=Metropolis, painted by George Grosz,doomed to its own destr
  3. "Grosz, George (1893–1959)." Encyclopedia. Accessed February 24, 2021. https://www. encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/grosz-george-1893-1959.
  4. Haxthausen, Charles Werner, and Heidrun Suhr. Berlin: Culture and Metropolis. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

Comments (2)

Kanyun Zhou

I like this artwork because of its dominant color of red. And the whole painting has a red tone, which gives me a feeling of fervor.

tab

I like this art work because of the red colors that pop out with all of the other colors of the rainbow hidden throughout.