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George Grosz (Berlin 1893 - 1959 West Berlin)
Pen and ink on paper
11 1/8 x 8 3/4 in. • 282 x 222 mm
signed lower right "Grosz", verso dated and titled


Vera Lazuk Gallery, Cold Spring Harbor, New York;
Privat Collection from 1966;
Privat Collection, Great Britain;
Galerie Bassenge, 2021.

Further Information

With a pointed pen, immense skill, wit and irony, Grosz draws the two clowns, made up and costumed, and in addition two equally whimsical dogs in an implied stage-like setting. The artist titles the little scene "Vaudeville" after the theatrical genre that was particularly popular from the mid-1890s to the early 1930s and was known for its light entertainment. The various unrelated acts of Vaudeville resembled a vaudeville show or circus in their fast-paced juxtaposition. Although our drawing of Grosz's differs from the often more unflattering and direct scenes, it nevertheless critically addresses the issues of the time: namely, a society that seeks to escape reality by being seduced by the ephemeral pleasures of the entertainment industry. Grosz, as a fierce critic of the political and social grievances in the Weimar Republic, also exposes social maladjustment here in a provocative and caricaturing manner and with characteristic psychological acuity. The sheet is a wonderful example of his "razor-sharp" drawing style, which began around 1915.

The drawing was made at the end of the First World War, in an eventful time for the artist. In 1914 and 1917 he briefly took part in the war as a volunteer. After being drafted in 1917, Grosz fell into a deep psychological crisis, was court-martialled and was actually to be shot on the spot. This was only prevented by the intervention of Count Kessler, who was a friend of Grosz. However, the artist ended up in an insane asylum for several weeks. During this same period, on the other hand, he found access to the avant-garde circle around Else Lasker-Schüler and began to draw and write for various satirical newspapers such as "Ulk" or "Simplicissimus" and for self-published magazines. In 1917, when our drawing was made, he published his first portfolio of lithographs. Many of his often violent and satirical scenes from the politically charged and corrupt society of Berlin between the First World War and Hitler's rise to power were bundled together and reproduced in publications such as Ecce Homo (1925), which were confiscated by the public prosecutor.