A group of laborers, wearing hats and jackets, walks from viewer's right to left along a street littered with garbage. The two in the front carry shovels. In the background is an industrial landscape, dirty and in disrepair.
One of George Grosz's many works from the period after the First World War that explore the hardship of the poor and the working class in Germany's economic crisis, against a backdrop of a decaying industrial landscape.
March 28, 2009
In 1914 Grosz, like many of his generation, volunteered for service in World War I. The experience left a deep, dark impression. In 1918, he joined the Berlin Dada Movement, whose aesthetic reflected their militant opposition to the political and social forces that had caused the Great War. The Dadaists shared Grosz’s anti-establishment views, but whereas his compatriots were unable to offer an alternative other than total anarchy, Grosz applied himself to more constructive criticism of the status quo, calling on artists to “collaborate in the building of a new human community, the community of working people.” His satirical drawings were published in radical leftist journals, such as the widely circulated Workers’ Illustrated News, and his portfolios were simultaneously published in cheap editions for the working class and deluxe editions for the elite collector, the sales of which offset the cost of the mass-produced editions.
The celebrated Armory Show of 1913 was a seminal event in the artistic life of American artist Stuart Davis. In was there that he first encountered Cubism, an important key to his later development.
Davis's subject here is "the impersonal dynamics of New York City." In this and similar works the artist uses a Cubist vocabulary to explore the vitality and diversity of the city. Like Léger, with whom Davis felt a close affinity, these works are kaleidoscopic, drawing together aspects of the city, past and present, fragmenting them, and then reuniting these images to create a complex and unified whole.