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Archive for August 15th, 2017

I have been thinking about the work of the German painter George Grosz, who was born in 1893 and died in 1959. Maybe it’s the tone of these recent days in this country, darkly ominous and tinged with potential violence, that bring his work to mind. His work definitely dealt with the tenor of his time, mirroring the mood of  the two world wars and the rise of fascism in Europe and Hitler in Nazi Germany to which he was a witness. I thought I would replay an earlier blog post about Grosz that ran six years back. I’ve added a few more examples of his work as well as a video slideshow. The music in it is Andre Rieu playing a selection from The Merry Widow which adds a slightly lighter touch to the film.

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I woke up in the dark this morning after a fitful night of sleep filled with horrible dreams.  I don’t want to go into the details but they were awful and constant, each sweeping from desperate scene into yet another.  Dark and tinged in deep colors of black and red.  Hopeless in the scope of their finality and, though I am hesitant to use the word, there was a sense of apocalypse.  I was shaken.  I’ve had many horrifying dreams over the years but they seldom felt so vast and desperately final.

 As I trudged down to pick up my newspaper I tried to sort out the dream and try to find an equivalence in imagery that I know that captured in some way the feel of these dreams.  As I neared the studio the dark paintings of George Grosz done in Germany in the years before World War I came to mind.  They were forebodingly dark and angry and just the overall look of them made me think of the darkest corners of man’s mind.  The red tones and the way they filled the picture plane along with the chaotic nature of the compositions brought to mind the nightmarish feel of my dreams.

Grosz’s work changed over the years, especially after fleeing Hitler’s Germany, moving to the New York in the 1930’s where he lived until the late 1950’s when he returned to Berlin, dying there in 1959.  His American work is often considered the wekest of his career, less biting and more esoteric.  There were exceptions during the war such as 1944’s  Cain, Or Hitler in Hell, shown here, which reverts back to the colors and nightmare feel of his early work.  Very powerful work that may not sooth one’s soul but rather documents the darker aspects of human existence.

I don’t know if my own nightmares have an effect on my work.  Perhaps they come out in work that seems the antithesis of them, work that seeks to calm and assure.  I don’t really know to be honest.  I know that I want to put last night’s visions behind me.  To that end, I think I should get to work and let my nightmares only dwell in the work of Grosz for now.

 

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