Past exhibitions: Bridge over chaos (Spring 2016): THE GREY MAN DANCES

George GROSZ (1893-1959)Oil on Masonite 76 x 55,6 cmCourtesy: Ralph JentschThe Grey Man Dances (1949) is a rare and widely exhibited masterpiece by George Grosz, which was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin), and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).PROVENANCEThe artist’s studio, Huntington, Long Island, 1949Lester G. Rees Collection, ChicagoJack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los AngelesPrivate collection, Italy, 1994LITERATUREManfred Fath, Inge Herold, Thomas Köllhofer, Menschenbilder. Figur in Zeiten der Abstraktion (1945-1955), illustrated p. 48, Berlin 1998Ralph Jentsch, Alfred Flechtheim – George Grosz: Zwei deutsche Schicksale, p. 138, Bonn 2008 Juerg M. Judin (Ed.), George Grosz. Die Jahre in Amerika 1933-1958, cat.-no. 51, illustrated p. 153, Ostfildern 2009EXHIBITEDGeorge Grosz: The Stick Men, Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, 12 April – 1 May 1948George Grosz, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 14 January – 7 March 1954; William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, 1 – 31 May 1954; The Pasadena Art Institute, 25 June – 25 July 1954; San Francisco Museum of Art, 17 August – 19 September 1954George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 21 December 1994 – 17 April 1995; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 6 May – 30 June 1995; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 7 September – 3 December 1995George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, 12 December 1995 – 27 January 1996Face à l’histoire 1933-1936: L’artiste modern face à l’événement historique, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 19 December 1996 – 7 April 1997George Grosz: Berlin – New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, 8 April – 21 May 2000; The Itami City Museum of Art, 10 June – 30 July 2000; Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, 6 August – 24 September 2000George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Academie de France à Rome, Villa Medici, 9 May – 15 July 2007George Grosz: Kunst aus zwei Welten: Aufbruch nach Amerika, Schloss Ritzebühl, Cuxhaven, 3 August – 5 October 2008NOTESSince choosing to go into exile in the United Stated in 1933, Grosz had closely followed developments in Germany under Hitler, and he also captured the horrors of the war in his art. However, the great hope that the death of Hitler and the end of the war would improve the political situation in the world was dashed. Instead, it was too obvious that the Cold War could lead to a global atomic disaster. It was during this period that the “stickmen” – gray, empty, soulless creatures – began appearing in Grosz’s paintings. In the picture The Grey Man Dances, the stickman seems crazy; he dances the dance of the madman in a world totally gone insane. The figure’s stick legs are clad in worn fur and stuck into hobnailed boots, in which the stickman haphazardly runs across an ice-covered earth. The ears are nailed shut, the mouth is sew together, the top of the skull opened up, and the hollow body hastily mended. Inexpressively, the cold glass eyes stare into the distance. Still, this fragment creature – the spawn of a mad, grotesque world – appears to feel endless pain. No wonder: in the exploding factories in the background, the machines are running out of control, sparks shoot out of the chimney, and black smoke darkens the sky. The buildings seem to glow with the heat, the layer of ice cracks. The word is out of joint. Juerg M. Judin (Ed.), George Grosz. Die Jahre in Amerika 1933-1958, Ostfildern 2009, p. 77ADDITIONAL NOTESWe are indebted to Newcity Art for the following: George Grosz’s venomous satire is still largely evident as in the 1940s series of “stickmen,” emaciated gray figures of working-class poverty. These tortured souls are mutilated and deformed, as in “Grey Man Dances.” The figure’s ears are boarded up, chest empty and lips sutured shut. Grosz’s grizzly topics are amplified by his murky color choices and encrusted paint applications. Another poignant work that evinces the traumatic dislocation of Grosz is “The Painter of the Hole I” from 1948. Sitting at an easel, the same hollow-brained figure stares desperately at a rotting, blistered canvas. His brush is at the ready but the support is crumbling along with the world and his own body. His task is unenviable and absurd. His brush can’t help the situation, and it can’t drive away the rats from his feet. As a metaphor for Grosz’s own growing skepticism with political activism, this painting reveals his discontent with an activity that increasingly seems as hollow as his “stickmen.” (Dan Gunn)
THE GREY MAN DANCES, 1949

 

George GROSZ (1893-1959) 

Oil on Masonite  

76 x 55,6 cm 

Courtesy: Ralph Jentsch 

The Grey Man Dances (1949) is a rare and widely exhibited masterpiece by George Grosz, which was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), the Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin), and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). 

PROVENANCE 

The artist’s studio, Huntington, Long Island, 1949 

Lester G. Rees Collection, Chicago 

Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles 

Private collection, Italy, 1994 

LITERATURE 

Manfred Fath, Inge Herold, Thomas Köllhofer, Menschenbilder. Figur in Zeiten der Abstraktion (1945-1955), illustrated p. 48, Berlin 1998 

Ralph Jentsch, Alfred Flechtheim – George Grosz: Zwei deutsche Schicksale, p. 138, Bonn 2008  

Juerg M. Judin (Ed.), George Grosz. Die Jahre in Amerika 1933-1958, cat.-no. 51, illustrated p. 153, Ostfildern 2009 

EXHIBITED 

George Grosz: The Stick Men, Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, 12 April – 1 May 1948 

George Grosz, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 14 January – 7 March 1954; William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, 1 – 31 May 1954; The Pasadena Art Institute, 25 June – 25 July 1954; San Francisco Museum of Art, 17 August – 19 September 1954 

George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 21 December 1994 – 17 April 1995; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 6 May – 30 June 1995; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 7 September – 3 December 1995 

George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Associated American Artists Galleries, New York, 12 December 1995 – 27 January 1996 

Face à l’histoire 1933-1936: L’artiste modern face à l’événement historique, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 19 December 1996 – 7 April 1997 

George Grosz: Berlin – New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, 8 April – 21 May 2000; The Itami City Museum of Art, 10 June – 30 July 2000; Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, 6 August – 24 September 2000 

George Grosz: Berlin – New York, Academie de France à Rome, Villa Medici, 9 May – 15 July 2007 

George Grosz: Kunst aus zwei Welten: Aufbruch nach Amerika, Schloss Ritzebühl, Cuxhaven, 3 August – 5 October 2008 

NOTES 

Since choosing to go into exile in the United Stated in 1933, Grosz had closely followed developments in Germany under Hitler, and he also captured the horrors of the war in his art. However, the great hope that the death of Hitler and the end of the war would improve the political situation in the world was dashed. Instead, it was too obvious that the Cold War could lead to a global atomic disaster. It was during this period that the “stickmen” – gray, empty, soulless creatures – began appearing in Grosz’s paintings. In the picture The Grey Man Dances, the stickman seems crazy; he dances the dance of the madman in a world totally gone insane. The figure’s stick legs are clad in worn fur and stuck into hobnailed boots, in which the stickman haphazardly runs across an ice-covered earth. The ears are nailed shut, the mouth is sew together, the top of the skull opened up, and the hollow body hastily mended. Inexpressively, the cold glass eyes stare into the distance. Still, this fragment creature – the spawn of a mad, grotesque world – appears to feel endless pain. No wonder: in the exploding factories in the background, the machines are running out of control, sparks shoot out of the chimney, and black smoke darkens the sky. The buildings seem to glow with the heat, the layer of ice cracks. The word is out of joint.  

Juerg M. Judin (Ed.), George Grosz. Die Jahre in Amerika 1933-1958, Ostfildern 2009, p. 77 

ADDITIONAL NOTES 

We are indebted to Newcity Art for the following:  

George Grosz’s venomous satire is still largely evident as in the 1940s series of “stickmen,” emaciated gray figures of working-class poverty. These tortured souls are mutilated and deformed, as in “Grey Man Dances.” The figure’s ears are boarded up, chest empty and lips sutured shut. Grosz’s grizzly topics are amplified by his murky color choices and encrusted paint applications. Another poignant work that evinces the traumatic dislocation of Grosz is “The Painter of the Hole I” from 1948. Sitting at an easel, the same hollow-brained figure stares desperately at a rotting, blistered canvas. His brush is at the ready but the support is crumbling along with the world and his own body. His task is unenviable and absurd. His brush can’t help the situation, and it can’t drive away the rats from his feet. As a metaphor for Grosz’s own growing skepticism with political activism, this painting reveals his discontent with an activity that increasingly seems as hollow as his “stickmen.” (Dan Gunn)