|George Grosz at work|
Of course, I knew who he was. His drawing, "Fit for Active Service", had been in my mother's college text, H.H. Arnason's History of Modern Art, along with a color plate of the painting, "Pillars of Society." (Arnason's book became something close to a sacred volume for me. I look at it constantly. I once knew the order of the page imagery by heart.) And yet, I did not understand what made Grosz, the man, tick. I felt this was necessary, since I had chosen him as the subject of my thesis. During my first few months at LMU, I made an appointment with a professor in Art History Department and indicated, in my then uncertain German that I wanted to study Max Beckmann. She said, "You will find it difficult to do any original research on Beckman. So many people have already written about him. Why don't you do your paper on someone like...oh, say, George Grosz?"
Why not, indeed. The previous year, I had deferred my Master's Degree at Pitt in order to come to Germany, and I had already met with my future thesis advisor. She was a George Grosz scholar, perhaps one of the most prominent Grosz scholars. I had no misgivings about entering her turf, although some fellow graduate students later questioned my sanity. When I returned home, she and I carved up Grosz' life like it was steak. She got the 19-teens, 20s and early 30s; I got his emigree legacy. And ultimately, I tied Grosz's legacy to another artist, Romare Bearden, Grosz's student at the Arts Students League. But that's another story for another time.
|George Grosz, "The Retreat" 1946|
|Malcolm Cowley, who castigated Grosz for|
the artist's apoliticism in America