George Grosz. Metropolis (Grossstadt). 1917
George Grosz

Metropolis (Grossstadt)

1917
Not on view
Medium
Oil on board
Dimensions
26 3/4 x 18 3/4" (68 x 47.6 cm)
Credit
Purchase
Object number
136.1946
Copyright
© 2015 Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Department
Drawings and Prints

Painted after his nervous breakdown and subsequent release from the German army, George Grosz's Großstadt (Metropolis) presents the city as a place that is as hellish as the battlefield. Bathed in shades of fiery red, flame blue, and rich purple, buildings topple and streets buckle. Tilted on a diagonal, the composition conveys the social upheavals of wartime. Multiple perspectives merge to create a disorienting space and collapse distinctions between inside and outside. Grosz shows simultaneously a café's exterior signage and facade and its interior, which is reduced to a chair and table with bottles and an empty glass.

Moral order has broken down as well. Grosz's zig-zag composition plots a tour through the city's debauchery. A properly dressed man lecherously eyes the naked body of an upside-down woman. Wearing little more than stockings and a shirt that bares her breasts, a streetwalker presses her hand into the crotch of a passing man. Grosz explored such potent combinations of sex, violence, and revolution throughout his career.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist; acquired by Sally Falk (1888-1962), Mannheim, 1918 [1]; sold to Rudolf Pfrunder, Zurich, January 6, 1919 [2]; sold to J. B. Neumann (1887-1961), Berlin, October 1919 [3]. Wilhelm Landmann [William Landman] (1891-1986), Mannheim/Amsterdam/Toronto, by 1939 [4]; sold to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 24, 1946.
[1] Roland Dorn et al., Stiftung und Sammlung Sally Falk, Mannheim: Städtische Kunsthalle, 1994, p. 136.
[2] Ibid., p. 162. On deposit at the Kunsthalle Mannheim since May 1918 (title: Café).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Date of acquisition unknown. On loan from Landmann to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, from 1939-1946. See Gregor Langfeld, Duitse kunst in Nederland: 1919-1964, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, 2004, p. 164.

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

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Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource