Satirist and provocateur, Grosz's impetus for moral outrage, which was immediately picked up by the Berlin avant-garde, still resonates today.by Wessie du Toit / September 23, 2013 / Leave a comment
Berlin during the 1920s is often seen as an oasis for libertines, glittering between two authoritarian periods: the Wilhelmine Reich, with its bloody culmination in the First World War, and the rise of the Nazis. The era is kept alive by enduring images of political assassinations and barricades, the banknote-littered streets of hyperinflation, transvestism and open displays of homosexuality. Brecht was at the theatre, Dietrich in the cinema, Dada in the galleries, and WH Auden chasing rough trade in the bars. Nowhere did the Twenties roar so dementedly as in Berlin, the city struggling to find both a stable identity and enough food to eat.
Artist George Grosz, whose work comes to the Richard Nagy gallery on 28th September, was the penetrating satirist and provocateur of the capital city during these heady days. Nagy’s exhibition presents 48 of Grosz’s works from the period 1912-28, as Berlin lurched from wartime destitution and post-war anarchy, through the Weimar “golden years” towards depression. Grosz gives us the Berlin of popular imagination: kaleidoscopic views of cabarets, cafes and street scenes, populated by down-and-outs, monocled aristocrats, and easy women. Yet he also reminds us that disease, poverty and suicide were inevitable consequences of Berlin’s inequality and excess….