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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / German Expressionism / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists
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George Grosz (German, 1893-1958): Ecce Homo black-and-white lithographs 7

Click here for biographical introduction
Grosz: Ecce Homo color I / Grosz: Ecce Homo color II
Grosz: Ecce Homo / Grosz: Ecce Homo 2 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 3 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 4 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 5
Grosz: Ecce Homo 6 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 7 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 8 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 9 / Grosz: Ecce Homo 10 / Grosz : Tartarin
German Expressionism: People / LOvers / Society

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" featured over fifty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Josef Albers,
Ernst Barlach, Rudolf Bauer, Max Beckmann, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth,
Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger, Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Alfons Graber, Otto Greiner, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel,
Hannah Hoch, Karl Hofer,Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner,
Edvard Munch, Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault,
Rudolf Schlichter, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.

German Expressionist Drawings

The Russians: Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Goncharova, Larionov, and Malevich
Perhaps the most famous of Grosz's collections is Ecce Homo (Berlin: Malik Verlag, 1923). The title echoes Pilate's presentation of Jesus as King of the Jews, beaten, with a crown of thorns, bloody and ready for crucifixion, and clearly not the Messiah he had been proclaimed to be six days earlier when he was greeted by rapturous crowds. Just so, the image of the heroic German, brave in war and moral in peacetime, took such a beating in Grosz's drawings, watercolors, and paintings, that he was prosecuted for "offences against public morality and for besmirching the values of the German people" (Kranzfelder, 59). Ecce Homo was found to be a slanderous attack upon the army, which won damages and the removal of 5 color plates and 17 black and white plates from the portfolio in a law suit. Grosz was also fined 6000 marks. Since Grosz had been attacking the Nazis since the early 1920s and since he had singled out Hitler in particular, it is not surprising that after the Nazi's took power in Germany, his works were singled out for ridicule and destruction. 285 of his works were removed from German collections and destroyed and the 1937 Munich Exhibition of Nazi-labelled "Degenerate Art" included five of his paintings, two watercolors, and thirteen drawings (Kranzfelder, p. 86). After relocating to the U.S., Grosz wrote to J. B. Neuman concerning his own place in the history of art: "My drawings will naturally stay true–they are fireproof. They will later be seen as Goya's work [is]. They are not documents of the class struggle, but eternally living documents of human stupidity and brutality" (Hess, p. 240).

According to Dückers, the portfolios were printed in December 1922 and published in January 1923. The publisher offered purchasers 5 separate options:
Ausgabe A / Deluxe Edition A: numbers I-L containing 16 lithographs after watercolors and 84 lithographs loose in a silk portfolio, each print hand-signed by the artist.
Ausgabe B 1 / Deluxe Edition B 1: , numbers 1-100 containing just the 16 lithographs after watercolors, loose in a half-vellum portfolio, each print hand-signed by the artist.
Ausgabe B 2 / Edition B 2: the same as edition B 1, except unsigned in a handmade board binding;
Ausgabe C / Edition C: the same as edition A, except unsigned in a handmade board binding, edition size c. 6000-8000;
Ausgabe D / Edition D: just the 84 lithographs unsigned in a chromo board binding.
The total edition was about 10,000 printed, but given the Nazis approach to Grosz' works, the likelihood that most of the portfolios survived the Nazi regime is quite small. In 1965, Brussel and Brussel reproduced Edition C on smaller-sized paper in a bound book and in 1966 Grove Press followed suite, again in a reduced size edition. We have a copy of the Grove Press version (with introduction by Henry Miller), and it seems fairly clear that they found an impression of Edition C, produced an edition based upon offset lithographic reproductions of the plates. If one puts the color plates from the 1922 edition next to their counterparts from the 1966 Grove Press edition, the differences are blindingly obvious: the colors in the 1922 edition are rich and intense; the colors in the reprint are flat and dull. All of the works we have available are from a disbound example of Edition C.

Selected Bibliography: Alexander Dückers, George Grosz: Das druckgraphische Werk (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1979); there is also an edition with an English translation published by Alan Wofsy Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1966, from which we will cite: George Grosz: Das druckgraphische Werk / The Graphic Work; Bruce Davis, German Expressionist Prints and Drawings: The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies. Volume 2: Catalogue of the Collection (Prestel: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989); M. Kay Flavell, George Grosz: A Biography (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988); Frank Gettings, George Grosz - The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Collection ( Washington DC: Smithsonian, 1978); George Grosz, A Small Yes and a Big No: The Autobiography of George Grosz (London: Allison & Busby, 1982); Hans Hess, George Grosz (New York: Macmillan 1972); Ivo Kranzfelder, George Grosz: 1893-1959 (Köln: Benedikt Taschen, 1994); Hedy B. Landman, Theatrical Drawings and Watercolors by George Grosz (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1973); Beth Irwin Lewis, George Grosz: Art and Politics in the Weimar Republic (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971); Barbara McCloskey, George Grosz and the Communist Party (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997); Serge Sabarsky, George Grosz: The Berlin Years (NY: Rizzoli, 1985); Uwe M. Schneede, George Grosz: His life and work (London: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1979); Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957; 1974).
O alte Burschenherrlichkeit / Gaudeamus Igitur (Duckers S1-52, Davis-Rifkind 952: 52). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). The portfolio was stapled into a handmade board binding. When the pages were turned, they ran into this binding and an indention was created in the margin of the first 20+ lithographs. In almost all cases, this mark is not visible in the works as matted; where it is, we will mention it in the descriptions of the individual pieces. The color works were printed on heavier paper and the indentions are not only much less visible but always outside the visible area as matted. The 1966 Grove reprint titles this work "Good Old Student Days." Image size: 215x199mm. Price: $475.
Studie / Study (Duckers S1-53, Davis-Rifkind 955: 43). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Image size: 259x182mm. Price: $575.
Ledebour (Duckers S1-54, Davis-Rifkind 952: 54). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1919. Our impression from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). George Ledebour (1850-1947) was German socialist politician who was radicalized by the outbreak of war in 1914 and became a leader of the Berlin communist uprising of January 1919. A leading proponent of political and social revolution during the closing weeks of the war, he headed, with Karl Liebknecht, the revolutionary committee that in January 1919 directed the abortive communist uprising in Berlin. Subsequently, as a member of the Weimar Reichstag (1920–24), he was the head of a small independent faction. In 1931 Ledebour joined the Socialist Workers’ Party, but, like Grosz, he emigrated from Germany when the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He died in Switzerland in 1947. Image size: 220x209mm. Price: $475.
Garrisonverwendungsfähig / Fit for Garrison Duty 1920 (Duckers S1-55, Davis-Rifkind 952: 55). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). In the 1966 Grove edition, this work is titled "Evening Rush Hour." Illustrated in Hess, pl. 93. Image size: 207x267mm. Price: $575.
Vor dem Tee / Before Tea (Duckers S1-56, Davis-Rifkind 952: 56). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922 Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Image size: 268x206mm. Price: $475.
Ungleiches Paar / Dissimilar Pair (Duckers S1-57, Davis-Rifkind 952: 47). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Image size: 250x19mm. Price: $475.
Apachen / Apaches (Duckers S1-58, Davis-Rifkind 952: 58). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Illustrated in Hess, pl. 58. In Grosz's Autobiography, this work is entitled, "After it was over, they played cards" (p. 114, 1983 ed. trans. Nora Hodges). At first glance, this may seem like a group of men playing cards; however that changes as soon as the viewer notices the bloody axe on the floor (bottom center). Following that, we quickly see a leg and thigh behind the card player at left, heads and body parts scattered about on the left side, and we realize that the black splotches on the ground, on the clothes of the thug at left, and all over the side of the couch nearest the viewer, are blood spatters. This work might have served Edward S. Herman in his study, The Banality of Evil (1991) "where he emphasized the importance of 'normalizing the unthinkable.' According to him, 'doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on 'normalization.' This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as "the way things are done." As Mr. Kurz said in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, "The horror, the horror." One of the most troubling works in Ecce Homo. Image size: 202x271mm. Price: $675.
Ehrenmann / Man of Honor (Duckers S1-59, Davis-Rifkind 952: 59). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Image size: 242x196mm. There is a large orange-brown stain in the left margin, where it is under the mat); there is a smaller, lighter stain on the lower left side of the face just above the chin. Price: $375.
Richard Wagner Gedenkblatt / Memorial of Richard Wagner (Duckers S1-60, Davis-Rifkind 952: 60). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1921. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Image size: 242x191mm. Price: $475.
Genrszene / Genre Scene (Duckers S1-61, Davis-Rifkind 952: 61). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). Illustrated Hess, plate 104. Small ink stain lower right, probably a finger print from one of the printers. Image size: 266x179mm. Price: $575.
Esplanade (Duckers S1-62, Davis-Rifkind 952: 62). Offset lithograph for Ecce Homo, 1922. Our impression is from the unsigned Ausgabe C of the first edition of Ecce Homo (Berlin, 1923). In 1931, the original drawing upon which this work was based was exhibited at "A Postwar Museum" under the title, "Fat Rises." Image size: 271x200mm. Price: $575.

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