Auction 1121, Modern Art - Autumn 2018, 30.11.2018, 17:00, Cologne Lot 218

George Grosz, Berliner Salon

George Grosz, Berliner Salon, 1920, Auction 1121 Modern Art - Autumn 2018, Lot 218

George Grosz

1893 - Berlin - 1959

Berliner Salon

1920

Pen and ink drawing (pen and reed pen) on slightly textured drawing paper from a drawing pad (perforated upper, lower and left edge). 35.7 x 27.4 cm. Signed 'Grosz' in pencil lower right. - The former mat opening slightly browned with light-stain, overall with minor foxing.

With a photo-certificate and expert report from Ralph Jentsch, Berlin/Rome, dated 26 September 2018; the work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works on paper by George Grosz.

Provenance

Artist's studio; German private collection, in family possession since

As Ralph Jentsch explains in his expert report, George Grosz was already planning a large, three-volume compendium entitled “Die Häßlichkeit der Deutschen” before the First World War. Comparable content dominates the drawings and watercolours of that period. The present image from 1920, “Berliner Salon”, is a good example of the character-based standard figures which are repeated programmatically in his oeuvre. All five figures in this interior developed into a dense composition are human caricatures of themselves: stereotypes which not only illustratively satisfy our narrative appetite, but also and primarily stand for the political social criticism intended by Grosz. In hundreds of works on paper he presents the dark and negative sides of human nature as he observed it - and exposes brutalities, awful intrigues, lies and hypocrisy. For him these were the behaviours that lead to war, exploitation and unspeakable misery. They ultimately justified and explained the radicalism in his artistic treatment of them.

The figure of the bald man in the foreground is found in a very similar form in the drawing “Dr. Huelsenbeck am Ende”, which was reproduced in the portfolio “Ecce homo”, published in 1922/23 (Dückers S I, 40). In terms of technique, Grosz liked to use different pens of varying thickness in his drawings, thus enabling himself to visually accentuate contours and details of his use of line in a characteristic manner.

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