• Gghero2

    George Grosz: Tempo der Strasse (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London) (detail)

Art

Art: Superb satires of 1920s Berlin from the inimitable George Grosz

Posted by Rob Alderson,

The hipsters like to think they discovered everything. Brooklyn, beards, Berlin; all co-opted into the cause with scant regard for their past, simply championed for the role they play in their Flat-White dreams. But a new show just opened in London reminds us that Berlin has felt like the centre of a countercultural world before, as realised by the artist George Grosz.

Through the 50 works on display (some of which have only recently been discovered in a private collection) Grosz creates a sleazy satire of the German capital of the 1920s, where grotesque figures engage in grotesque acts and even at the height of cosmopolitan chaos the vulgarity of human hypocrisy is everywhere. Sometimes dream-like, sometimes verging on the hellish, his drawings and paintings suck you right into the moral vortex he saw all about him and one he felt was intrinsically linked to wider socio-cultural concerns.

“You can’t be indifferent about your position in this activity, about your attitude towards the problem of the masses,” the artist wrote in 1912. “Are you on the side of the exploiters or on the side of the masses?”

Embittered by his experiences of the First World War, Grosz’ deep mistrust of authority figures feels as relevant as ever in these privacy-lite times.

George Grosz’s Berlin runs until November 2 at the Richard Nagy Gallery.

  • George-grosz_-strasse_-berlin-(street_-berlin)_-1915.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Strasse, Berlin (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-nach-dem-theater-(after-the-theatre)_-1926.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Nach dem Theater (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-fern-im-s%c3%bcd-das-sch%c3%b6ne-spanien-(far-in-the-south_-beautiful-spain)_-1919.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Fern im Sud das scone Spanien (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-stammg%c3%a4ste-(regulars)_-1915.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Stammgaste (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-sonniges-land-(sunny-land)_-1920.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Sonniges Land (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-strassencaf%c3%a9-(streetcaf%c3%a9)_-1917.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Strassencafe (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-s%c3%bcdende-(southend)_-1918.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Sudende (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-nieder-mit-liebknecht-(down-with-liebknecht)_-1918.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Nieder mit Liebknecht (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

  • George-grosz_-tempo-der-strasse-(the-tempo-of-the-street)_-1918.-courtesy-of-richard-nagy-ltd_-london

    George Grosz: Tempo der Strasse (Courtesy of Richard Nagy London)

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Int-list-carsten-holler-pic

    Merging the fun of the playground with the beauty and cerebral qualities of art, a slide will transport visitors to the Hayward Gallery entrance this summer thanks to the forthcoming Carsten Höller show, Decision.

  2. Serenmorganjones-int-list

    With the centenary of British women receiving the partial vote coming up shortly, artist Seren Morgan Jones decided it was time to focus on the Welsh suffragists who helped to make it happen. “I think it is important to show that there is more to Wales and its history than coal mining, rugby and men,” she explains, “and to draw people’s attention to the fact Welsh women were so involved in the fight for women’s rights.”

  3. Traceyemin-mybed-int-

    Sometimes I don’t really “get” modern art, but I get Tracey Emin’s My Bed. She displayed it as a piece of art in 1998 after practically living in it for about a month following a bad breakup. Back then she was rake-thin and impish with an appetite for booze and fags, in her early twenties in that odd stage where you’re left to fend for yourself but are not perhaps quite ready.

  4. List-welcome_to_neu_friedenwald_by-laura-jung

    To say that the announcement from David Lynch that Twin Peaks was returning was met with excitement is something of an understatement. It was, as is to be expected, met with rabid levels of hysteria – or at least as rabid as those cool enough to adore the show would willingly articulate – and we’re still a good year away from seeing it on screen. This year is the show’s 25-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, something very special is afoot in Berlin.

  5. Samchirnside-int-list

    I don’t know what it is about seeing colours up close that’s so mesmerising, but Sam Chirnside is all over it. The Melbourne and New York-based artist works predominantly with oil paints to create strangely beautiful distortions, which work best when overlaid with a band logo to create album artwork, or cut out in geometric shapes. His works resemble planetary compositions straight out of a senior school physics textbook or a happy spillage in an art classroom, and we can’t get enough of them.

  6. Jacksmith-npg-int-list

    For the first time ever a show at the National Portrait Gallery in London contains no human faces. Jack Smith: Abstract Portraits which opened late last week is the first exhibition in the gallery’s 159-year history that includes no figurative portraits as Smith’s work is made up of abstract shapes and colours. Of course there’s nothing new about the idea of a portrait being something other than a traditional head and shoulders painting, but it is noteworthy that one of London’s leading galleries should take such a decisive step.

  7. Benjamin-dittrich-int-list

    German graphic artist Benjamin Dittrich is principally concerned with scale at both a micro and macro level. He preoccupies himself with subjects as large as the cosmos and as minute as molecular structures, zooming in and out in his textural works to reveal vast and complex systems. His retro-futuristic work is breathtakingly complex, utilising painted and printed layers to launch you though time and space. He’s got a new show opening at Spinnerei Archiv Massiv tonight in Leipzig, which if you’re based nearby we’d urge you to get down to. Utterly beautiful stuff!

  8. Chyrumlambert-port-2-int_copy

    Los Angeles-based artist Chyrum Lambert uses formal constraints like grid systems and scalpel blades to contain and compose his paintings made up of cut-and-paste figures, patterns and abstract narratives.

  9. Blamey-ct-6-int

    David Blamey, the artist who founded publisher Open Editions, has authored the first release from Continuous Tone, a series of sound works that treat the medium as a viable space for the production of art.

  10. Nathalie-due-pasquier-int-list-3

    Nathalie Du Pasquier is a figure who seems to leave a trail of intrigue behind her everywhere she goes. This is largely because, as a founding member of the Memphis group (an Italian design and architecture group founded in Milan in 1981) she’s been an unstoppable force in shaping the design world as we know it, colours, angles, ideas and all. But it’s also partly because her work is just so much fun.

  11. Escape-to-destiny-1mehdi-ghadyanloo-int-list

    Merging the style of the early 20th Century surrealists with contemporary street art, Tehran-based artist Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s work is strange and beguiling. He’s currently in London, busying himself with the mammoth task of creating murals all around the capital, including one measuring a whopping 3.4km. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also showing at the Howard Griffin Gallery in London, in an exhibition entitled Perception.

  12. List

    Highbrow folk like us often find the traditional emoticon can struggle to express how we really feel. We don’t ALWAYS want to convey that we’re blindly happy, crying with laughter or horizontally-lipped and nonplussed. Sometimes, we need something a little more creative. Thank the lord, then, that Hyo Hong has come up with just the solution, in the form of the multifaceted (in its truest sense) Cindy Sherman-icon.

  13. Art-belikov-int-list

    I can’t tell you a whole lot about Lithuanian artist Art Belikov other than he’s 24 years old and, er, Lithuanian. And that all his images are fantastical digital creations. But in spite of the lack of background information currently available to me I’d just like to say that his work is extraordinary. He’s a maker of 3D rendered images depicting scenes borrowed from late 90s sci-fi; all “vintage” cell phones and games consoles, cans of mysterious energy drinks and designer bottled water. There’s a 666 in his URL too so you can be sure he’s a cool guy! When we finally track the man down we’ll ask him some questions about what it all means, but for now just drink in the eerie beauty of his digital creations.