About this work
Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
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.