Art and Devastation: A Tour of German Post-War Expressionism #5

George Grosz, Ants, 1920. Photolithograph. MoMA.

Grosz prefered to make drawings that could be reproduced cheaply in trade union editions, He presented the forgotten people through the leftist lens of socialist politics. Yet he also produced costly limited editions of his works for the art market.

On the surface, Ants shows men marching with military bearing in the same direction. Some of their tools rest on their shoulders like rifles. On closer inspection, each man is unique: a face with its own story, different hats and footwear. They are not in ranks and each has a different gait. Grosz humanizes and dignifies the proletariat against the dirty background of factories.

Art after World War I could show dignity in the midst of difficulty. But could art offer hope?