GEORGE GROSZ: A Biography by M. Kay Flavell


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A superbly researched, splendidly organized revisionist study of the German/American satirist painter whose post-1933 works have long been considered only faint reflections of his earlier Weimar drawings, watercolors, and oils. For years, critical opinion has held that, having fled Germany just before Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Grosz ""sold out"" his socialist vision and became, as a US citizen, a mere recorder of the American scene, uncommitted to social change. Flavell, in arguments that are buttressed with an impressive range of facts and well-reasoned theories, manages to overturn this view. She establishes that Grosz's sense of skepticism, irony, and satire never deserted the painter; rather, his disillusionment became more pervasive. His repudiation of Communist orthodoxy early on, coupled with his longstanding opposition to Fascism, resulted, she claims, in his being vilified by both the Left and the Right. This, in turn, Flavell intimates, colored the denigrating response to Grosz's American works by many critics and social historians, including Malcolm Cowley. Here also are detailed portraits of such fellow exiles as Thomas Mann and Erwin Piscator, as well as such American supporters as Henry Miller, John Dos Passos, and Edmund Wilson. All in all, this is, in addition to being a fully realized biography, an absorbing portrait of the times. Personal details (e.g., Grosz's struggle with alcoholism) are not brushed over, thus lending depth and shadow to the narrative. An important and long-overdue reevaluation, then, of a unique satiric artist, (Eighty-five black-and-white and 20 color illustrations--not seen).

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press