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George Grosz (American, b. Germany, 1893–1959) created the “Stick Men” series in Huntington, where he lived from 1947 until shortly before his death. Featuring hollow figures in an apocalyptic landscape, this group of watercolors offers a searing indictment of humanity following World War II, the Holocaust, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Grosz was an internationally renowned German-born artist who remained invested in political art following his immigration to the United States in 1933. In the “Stick Men” series, he wrestles with the emergence of Abstract Expressionism and reaffirms the ability of painting to impact society.

Image above: Detail of George Grosz (American, b. Germany, 1893–1959), The Grey Man Dances, 1949. Oil on canvas. George Grosz Estate © Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

George Grosz (American, b. Germany, 1893–1959), Waving the Flag, 1947-1948. Watercolor on paper, Sheet (Irregular): 26-1/8 x 19-13/16 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase and exchange 54.9 © Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

George Grosz (American, b. Germany, 1893–1959), The Enemy of the Rainbow, 1946. Watercolor and India ink on paper, 25-3/8 x 18-7/8 in. Collection Judin, Berlin © Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Karli Wurzelbacher, PhD, is the Chief Curator of The Heckscher Museum of Art, where she has curated more than a dozen exhibitions. She has also worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland and the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. Wurzelbacher has published on artists including Grosz, Courtney M. Leonard, Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Joseph Stella, and Jack Whitten. She earned a PhD in art history from the University of Delaware.

This talk is presented on the occasion of the exhibition George Grosz: The Stick Men, on view at The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, New York, from May 11 through September 1, 2024. It is a collaboration with The Heckscher Museum of Art.

George Grosz (American, b. Germany, 1893–1959), Eclipse of the Sun, 1926. Oil on canvas, 81-5/8 x 71-7/8 in. The Heckscher Museum of Art, Museum Purchase 1968.1 © Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 Alfredo Valente (American, b. Italy, 1899–1973), George Grosz in his studio in Huntington, NY, with artworks from the “Stick Men” series, , c. 1950.  Alfredo Valente papers, 1941–1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution © Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This event is part of the online series “Flight or Fight. stories of artists under repression.”

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