Street Scene

George Grosz

German, 1893 - 1959

Street Scene

1933-1934

Watercolor on paper
23 7/8 x 17 1/2 in. (60.6 x 44.5 cm)
Framed: 34 3/4 x 26 3/4 x 1 1/8 in. (88.3 x 67.9 x 2.9 cm)

German-born artist George Grosz immigrated to the United States in 1933, just as Hitler was rising to power. In the 1920s, Grosz had incurred the wrath of the German government over his biting satirical artwork that pointed out the flaws, moral decay, and hypocrisy of German society and politics following World War I.

Grosz had been enamored with American culture since he was a child, and his artwork, once he came to the US, took on a much gentler, romanticized tone than the cynical work he had produced in Germany. He created witty illustrations for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Esquire magazines and taught at the Art Students League. As in this Street Scene, his caricatures of New York types were treated in a droll, almost indulgent manner. He abandoned his disillusioned political commentary and turned to more conventional subjects: urban scenes, nudes, and watercolors from nature.

Grosz was the only European artist Stieglitz exhibited in his third gallery, An American Place, where he mounted a one-man show of the artist’s work in 1935. In 1938, Stieglitz served as Grosz’s sponsor when he applied for American citizenship.