George Grosz. .a (recto): Circe .b (verso): Untitled. 1927

George Grosz .a (recto): Circe .b (verso): Untitled 1927

  • Not on view

Circe is the enchantress who, in Homer's Odyssey, turns Odysseus’s shipmates into pigs. It is one of many farcical caricatures of sexually available women and boorishly lewd men Grosz made during the 1910s and 1920s.

Gallery label from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011.

Reprising a theme he had often explored before, in this watercolor George Grosz shows that beneath their well-dressed and civilized exteriors, men are nothing but pigs. Grosz used the classical myth of Circe, the enchantress who transformed Odysseus's overindulgent men into swine, to attack the ongoing economic disparities of Weimar society. Grosz heightens this satire by rendering the male figure's exaggerated porcine features as meticulously as the exterior trappings of wealth and social standing. Wearing a well-tailored suit with a fresh shirt, perfectly knotted tie, and pristine shoe soles that seem to have barely touched the dirty city streets, this character wants for nothing and can afford everything. He sits across a café table from a prostitute, naked except for a few alluring accessories that her body had financed. The soft wash of color provides a further contrast to the biting social commentary.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Medium
.a (recto): Watercolor and ink on paper; .b (verso): Ink on paper
Dimensions
25 7/8 x 19 1/8" (65.7 x 48.6 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss and an anonymous donor (by exchange)
Object number
73.1981.a-b
Copyright
© 2018 Estate of George Grosz
Department
Drawings and Prints

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Estate of the artist [1]; sold to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1981 [2].

[1] Estate stamp "George Grosz Nachlass" on verso.
[2] On extended loan from the George Grosz Estate to The Museum of Modern Art since 1966.

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