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George Grosz (1893-1959)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more THE MEZZACAPPA COLLECTION
George Grosz (1893-1959)

Myself and the Barroom Mirror

Details
George Grosz (1893-1959)
Myself and the Barroom Mirror
signed 'Grosz' (lower left); signed again, dated, and inscribed 'Grosz 1937 Douglaston' and inscribed, titled and dated again '23 Chicago Myself and the Barroom Mirror 1937' and with Nachlass stamp (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
30 ¼ x 25 ¼ in. (76.6 x 64 cm.)
Painted in 1937
Provenance
Estate of the artist.
Private collection, United States (1960).
Acquired by the late owner, March 2012.
Literature
B. Möckle, George Grosz in Amerika, 1932-1959, Ph.D. diss., Universität Karlsruhe, Frankfurt, 2007, p. 203 (illustrated, pl. III).
Exhibited
The Art Institute of Chicago, George Grosz, A Survey of His Art from 1918 to 1938, December 1938-January 1939, no. 23.
New York, Associated American Artists Galleries, George Grosz, February 1943, no. 5 (titled My Face in the Bathroom Mirror).
Huntington, New York, Heckscher Museum, George Grosz, Works in Oil, July-September 1977, p. 26, no. 32 (illustrated, p. 18).
Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, George Grosz, September 1978-January 1979, no. 15.
Kamakura, Museum of Modern Art; Itami City Museum of Art and Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, George Grosz, Berlin-New York, April-September 2000, p. 52, no. I-24 (illustrated).
Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici, George Grosz, Berlin-New York, May-July 2007, p. 214, no. 302 (illustrated in color).
Munich, Galerie Fred Jahn, George Grosz, Neue Sachlichkeit und Realismus, 1921-1945, July-August 2007, pp. 30 and 81, no. 7 (illustrated in color, p. 31).
Berlin, Nolan Judin and New York, David Nolan Gallery, George Grosz, The Years in America, 1933-1958, February-October 2009, p. 98, no. 28 (illustrated in color, p. 99; detail illustrated in color on the cover).
Special Notice

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.

Brought to you by

David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Ralph Jentsch has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

In January 1933, eight days prior to Adolf Hitler’s assumption to the office of German Chancellor, Grosz and his wife Eva left Berlin and moved to New York City. By the time he arrived in the United States, Grosz’s brilliantly poignant and socially critical art was already internationally renowned and many of his works housed in major private and museum collections across Europe. In 1937, when he painted Myself and the Barroom Mirror, many would have already agreed with Juerg M. Judin and David Nolan's later statement that Grosz was “one of the most vigorous, original, and independent artists of the last century” who would leave “a visual mark on the first half of the twentieth century that was unrivalled by any other artist” (op. cit., 2009, p. 7).
Against the ominous political events developing in Germany, Grosz embraced America as a haven of freedom and a land of opportunity. He taught at the Arts Students League of New York and accepted significant commissions to illustrate for prominent American journals such as Esquire and Vanity Fair. “Grosz's time in America stimulated him, kept him alive, and helped keep his life on track. He cared deeply about the work he was doing while he was doing it,” writes Judin (ibid., p. 23). The year of 1937, when Grosz painted Myself and the Barroom Mirror, was critical in his artistic development. It was the year that he received the first of three Guggenheim Fellowships; he would accept the second and third awards in 1938 and 1939, respectively. The initial two-thousand dollar price, as Ralph Jentsch has noted, afforded Grosz greater financial independence that allowed him to forgo supplemental employment options and focus instead on his own artistic production (George Grosz, Berlin-New York, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura; Itami City Museum of Art and Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Utsunomiya, 2000, p. 214).
Nevertheless, Grosz remained deeply engaged in the developing political shifts in Europe. By 1937 the Nazis had begun destroying thousands of works seized from German museums and private collections as part of the “Degenerate Art” campaign to purge Germany of “unfit” art. Some 300 works by Grosz housed in public collections fell prey to this propaganda campaign. The complex composition of Myself and the Barroom Mirror evokes both a world of plenty and the perilous situation in Europe. Grosz depicts his own reflection peering out from behind a bar covered by an assortment of liquor bottles. His face is partially obscured by a small painting of a female figure in the upper right corner, and by a fan on the upper left; both objects are presumably affixed to the mirror support. A pipe, cigar, bottle top, and corkscrew are strewn about the bottles in the foreground of the picture. Most of his face is cast in an ominous shadow. The compressed composition and the austere look in his left eye, framed by his highly arched brow, instill the work with a nervous entropic energy. The painting seems to forebode the unthinkable events that would occur soon thereafter across Europe, a war unlike any before that reached into every home and parlor, deeply affecting millions of innocent people.

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