George Grosz The Poet Max Herrmann-Neisse 1927

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 514 The David Geffen Wing

This is the second of two portraits George Grosz painted of his friend, writer Max Herrmann-Neisse. After countless hours in Grosz's studio, which yielded more than thirty preparatory drawings for the portraits, Herrmann-Neisse said he felt "completely at home" there. In this portrait, Herrmann-Neisse slumps deeply into a chair, lost in thought. Grosz meticulously yet sympathetically presents Herrmann-Neisse and his distinctive features, such as his hunchback and oversize bald head. The artist details the lines, bumps, veins, gnarls, and ruddiness of his friend's head and hands, placing him almost within arm's reach.

Grosz and Herrmann-Neisse shared the same politics, sense of humor, and cynical outlook. They were, as Herrmann-Neisse later recalled, both "proper and anarchistic." Herrmann-Neisse, Berlin's leading cabaret critic, guided the way in their nocturnal adventures. Together they dove into the seediest nightspots, while also moving in the same intellectual circles and contributing to the same periodicals.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Oil on canvas
23 3/8 x 29 1/8" (59.4 x 74 cm)
Object number
© 2024 Estate of George Grosz
Painting and Sculpture

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Galerie Alfred Flechtheim (d. 1937), Berlin.1928 – [at least 1932]
Charlotte Weidler (b. Berlin 1895- d. New York 1983), Vienna, Berlin, and New York. By 1952
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York. 1952
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Curt Valentin, April 1952

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