Media File
George Grosz
Date: German painter and printmaker, 1893–1959
Biography: German artist known especially for his caricature drawings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic before he immigrated to the United States in 1933. From 1909 to 1911, he studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, where his teachers were Richard Müller, Robert Sterl, Raphael Wehle, and Oskar Schindler. He subsequently studied at the Berlin College of Arts and Crafts under Emil Orlik.

In 1916 he changed the spelling of his name to George Grosz as a protest against German nationalism and out of a romantic enthusiasm for America that originated in his early reading of the books of James Fenimore Cooper, Bret Harte and Karl May, and which he retained for the rest of his life. (His artist friend and collaborator Helmut Herzfeld changed his name to John Heartfield at the same time). Grosz was arrested during the Spartakus uprising in January 1919, but escaped using fake identification documents; he joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in the same year. Grosz left the KPD in 1922 after having spent five months in Russia and meeting Lenin and Trotsky, because of his antagonism to any form of dictatorial authority.

Bitterly anti-Nazi, Grosz left Germany shortly before Hitler came to power. In June 1932, he accepted an invitation to teach the summer semester at the Art Students League of New York. In October 1933, he and his family immigrated to America. Grosz became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938, and made his home in Bayside, New York. He taught at the Art Students League intermittently until 1955. Grosz was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate Academician in 1950. In 1954 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Though he had US citizenship, he resolved to return to Berlin, where he died.