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George Grosz (1893-1959)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The work of George Grosz, the revered chronicler of life in decadent Berlin, provides a multi-faceted and complex vision of German society between the collapse of the monarchy in 1918 and Hitler’s rise to power 14 years later. His oeuvre is an essential contribution to our understanding of life in the German capital during a turbulent, fateful moment in history. Grosz came to America in 1933, less than a week before Hitler was appointed German Chancellor. In the United States, he was renowned as an illustrator and painter of apocalyptic visions and crowded cityscapes. His war scenes and depopulated landscapes from this time contain warnings that Germany under the rule of the Nazis would start a brutal war in Europe. What Grosz predicted in hundreds of drawings, watercolors and paintings would become a gruesome reality. Christie’s is honored to offer the following superb selection of Grosz works on paper from an Important New York Collection. The group spans the artist’s career, including depictions of Berlin’s citizens in the years before Hitler’s appointment (see lots RL 19 and RL 18 and RL 259), biting social commentary (see lots RL 14 and RL 15), and apocalyptic visions from his years in America (see lots RL 17 and RL 16). This collection provides the opportunity to closely study the work of an obsessive observer who mercilessly captured and skillfully depicted all that his eye and imagination suggested.We would like to thank Ralph Jentsch for his assistance in cataloguing these works.Property from an Important New York Collection
George Grosz (1893-1959)

Feste Grundsätze

George Grosz (1893-1959)
Feste Grundsätze
signed ‘Grosz’ (lower right)
pen and India ink on paper
25 3/8 x 20 ½ in. (64.4 x 52 cm.)
Drawn in 1930
Vera Lazuk Gallery, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1970.
G. Grosz, Über alles die Liebe, Berlin, 1930, p. 62 (illustrated).
I. Hofbauer, ed., George Grosz, London, 1948, p. 22 (illustrated; titled Models of Respectability).
U.M. Schneede, ed., George Grosz, Die Welt ist ein Lunapark, Zurich, 1977, p. 222 (illustrated).
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Lot Essay

Ralph Jentsch has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

In the present work, Grosz portrays an ordinary German couple, on their way to a gathering, as evidenced by their smart attire and the wrapped bottle of alcohol the woman carries under her arm. Based on their facial expressions, we understand that they are not looking forward to arriving at their destination. In fact, happy times for this couple have surely passed, leaving them consistently dissatisfied with their quotidian life. To further enhance the scene of discontent, Grosz includes an angry doorman to the left of the couple. He peers out of the building’s front door, like a rabid caged animal, unwelcoming to anyone who may enter his domain. A civil servant walks toward the couple, with a briefcase full of documents under his arm. The title of the work, Feste Grundsätze, meaning “firm principles,” hints at the politics of these regular folk. As Ralph Jentsch has noted, “it was mainly these representatives of the Weimar Republic that supported Hitler and helped him a few years later to come to power.”

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