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Posts Tagged ‘George Grosz’

George Grosz- Explosion, 1917

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In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

-James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, 1787

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The drumbeat of war has started.

It’s all too predictable.

Here at home, the executive branch is under huge strain as it tries to deflect against any inspection or investigation of its actions. The president* has had historically low approval numbers while his actions seem designed to favor the wealthy few or his most ardent supporters at the expense of the majority of its citizens. He has shown a penchant for punishing those who stand against him and for spewing hateful, divisive rhetoric at rallies.

This same president* has shown a decided preference for foreign dictators and despots over our traditional friends and allies. He has attempted to follow their examples here at home, shattering the norms of democracy by trying to gain more and more power for the executive branch, unburdening himself from any sort of oversight by the other branches. His actions are uncompromising and unilateral, evidence of his desires for the same sort of unfettered power he sees in those autocrats he so admires and fawns over.

He desires unlimited executive power with little or no oversight.

So, as investigations roil around him, as his ambitions become more and more apparent (and attainable thanks to a craven GOP senate and a personal lawyer in the form of the Attorney General) what better way to deflect attention and gain support than use the ancient ruse, as Madison pointed out in his speech at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, of moving towards war against some foreign enemy?

We already have a historic foe in Iran. Our president* has been assisted by foreign autocrats, particularly the Russians and the Saudis, in reaching his lofty perch and appears to be in debt in some way to them now, willing to do their bidding on the world stage.  Iran is already an enemy to one of this president*’s greatest supporters, the Saudi Prince.

Recent unsubstantiated attacks of Saudi and UAE oil tankers (damage made by these unseen attacks was above the waterline, causing no spillage or injury nor made the ships less seaworthy) have the drums beating louder and louder. We have sent a carrier group to the Persian Gulf and plans are being prepared to send up to 120,000 US troops to the region. That is a force of about the same size as when we invaded Iraq. This would also be a unilateral move on the US’s part, with no involvement from our former traditional allies.

It is dangerous moment for us and the world.

A conflict  in this region could cost us dearly. The number of troops who would be sacrificed, and sacrificed is the term I knowing use, is unknown but even one or four or a hundred would be too many for such a misdirected ploy. There has even been talk that if this turned into a full blown war that we would not have sufficient numbers of troops and might need to reinstate the draft.

Or use private armies, an idea I find as reprehensible and financially irresponsible as the idea of private prisons.

Financially, it would cost our nation for decades to come as we know from the debt we still pay for the wars of the early 2000’s. Gas and oil prices would no doubt rise sharply with an ongoing war in that area of the world.

The repercussions throughout the world as far as trade are not known but past experience would point to a global downturn which in turn would strain those countries with already marginal economies. Would-be tyrants would be emboldened and there would be a surge in refugees fleeing such places.

It would be an existential test for a world already under stress.

And all because of a man* who has debts to those who would use him for the worst of reasons.

He is compromised and as a result, we, the people of this nation, are compromised as well. We will all be forced to pay for this compromise, some with money and some with their blood, their limbs, and their lives.

And for what? To divert attention? To change the narrative? To pay off some sort of debt?

And the drum beats on.

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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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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 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 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 dwell in the work of Grosz for now.

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