Ralph Jentsch has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
“Lights…the hum of voices…summer evening on the Boulevards St. Michel and Montparnasse…foreigners of every nationality on the terraces…peanut-vendors…1924…trees green as if they had been painted, like Menthe à l’eau. What an international revue! Citizens of every country shoving and pushing, among them many an American” (G. Grosz, A Little Yes and a Big No, The Autobiography of George Grosz, New York, 1946, p. 217).
Grosz's often violent and satirical body of work depicts the politically charged and corrupt society of Berlin in between the First World War and Hitler's rise to power. Many of these works were bundled and reproduced in publications such as Ecce Homo (1923), which was seized by the Public Prosecutor. Grosz was tried for defaming public morals and corrupting the inborn sense of shame and virtue innate in the German people in February 1924. He was fined 6,000 marks and numerous plates from the publication were confiscated and banned. These events may have led to his extended trip to France in 1924, and a further stay in Paris from June to October in 1925.
Grosz had studied at the Atelier Colarossi in Paris in 1912 and met artists such as Moise Kisling and Jules Pascin. He rekindled these connections on his return to Paris and turned to the Bohemian author Pierre Mac Orlan to help him explore Parisian nightlife. Hans Hess has written, "In April 1924 Grosz travelled to Paris for the first time since the war. With his old friend, Pierre Mac Orlan, he visited Pascin, and with Francis Carco and Man Ray, explored 'Montmartre at night,' making the typical remark all visitors make that they 'went to those hidden places which no foreigner ever gets to know'" (op. cit., 1974).
Painted in 1925, the present highly worked and large-scale watercolor depicts a popular haunt in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. The Dingo American Bar was opened in 1923 and quickly gained notoriety among English-speaking artists and writers, not least because it was one of the few drinking-houses that was open all night. For example, Ernest Hemingway first met F. Scott Fitzgerald at the bar in April 1925, two weeks after the publication of The Great Gatsby and a few months before the present work was executed.
In 1925, Grosz also published a paper that elucidated his opinion of contemporary French art and politics. He writes, “There is no point in surrendering to dreams: France today is intellectually and spiritually exhausted, almost dead; and those individuals who are always speaking about ‘tradition’ will find out, when they come to investigate the individual supports or pillars of this ‘tradition,’ that there is the same rottenness and disunity present here as there is everywhere else in Europe” (“Paris als Kunststadt,” Die Kunst ist in Gefahr, Berlin, 1925). This led Kay Flavell to conclude that, “By the mid-twenties, Grosz had formed a negative impression of the Soviet Union, France and England as alternative cultures to try to establish a new life in if conditions in Germany deteriorated to the point where that seemed necessary. The only untried alternative, in his mind at least, was America” (George Grosz, A Biography, New Haven, 1988, p. 53).
(fig. 1) The artist at a café in Boulogne-sur-mer in 1925.