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Support: Cream wove paper (now discolored to light brown
Sheet: 52.7 x 38 cm (20 3/4 x 14 15/16 in.)
© Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Contemporary Collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art 1966.50.b
George Grosz's interest in mechanization extended to his drawing practice: he used drafting tools, like a straight-edge and compass, to execute works such as this one.
Student belongs to a series of drawings George Grosz made for Iwan Goll’s 1921 play Methusalem: The Eternal Bourgeois. This satirical drama pitted a radical student against Methusalem, a bourgeois capitalist. Grosz’s drawing shows the student’s costume; the actor would have spoken from behind a full-size, mask-like shield made from various machine parts and other commonplace objects. The hinged metal head reveals the inner workings of a corrupt or incompetent mind. In Grosz’s characterization, neither the radical student nor the bourgeois capitalist was more righteous than the other. Grosz was an outlier to Expressionism, rejecting the idea of the artist as mystical prophet in favor of the artist as an ordinary worker, an idea inspired by the socialist rhetoric of the day.
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