The epic tale of the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse Printmaking Program. The Printmaking program is directed by Joel Elgin and features the odd collection of the many PrintFools who enroll, print and exist from semester to semester in the Shop of Tears.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

George Grosz, Ralph and the Lost

George Grosz, German (1893-1959)

Die Zivilisation Marschiert (Civilization Marches On), from the portfolio of 64 prints

entitled "Interregnum,” 1936

Photolithograph


“It was my first encounter with the works of the German artist George Grosz, when I was in my twenties, which showed me that drawing need not just be a space-filler in a newspaper: in the hands of an honest man, drawing could be a weapon against evil….Look at [his drawings] and you know the world is sick. You may say that he was sick too — but it is a common mistake to believe that sick drawings indicate a sick mind, rather than a reflective indictment of society. His drawings scream indelibly of human depravity; they are an eloquently barbaric response to life and death, right through the First World War and into the wild, helpless excesses of 1920s Berlin, which rotted away the lives of all those caught up in its suicidal glee.”

—Ralph Steadman

(click the title post for more)

George Grosz
Ich will alles um mich her ausrotten, was mich einschränkt, dass ich nicht Herr bin (I will root up from my path whatever obstructs my progress toward becoming the master), Plate I from The Robbers, 1922
photolithograph on paper


PrintFools learn some things from the Lost

(see last week's post)


33 comments:

Ali said...

Yeaah, Sunday Morning, I'm the first?

Anyway, I didn't get to see the Lost but from the picture I think I can make out a resemblance.

"It is a common mistake to believe that sick drawings indicate a sick mind." I think this applies to myself in a few ways mainly because I seem to be drawn towards the slightly grotesque and "creepy" energies lately when it comes to my drawings and ideas. "Eloquently barbaric." I think I like that phrase.

Sarahhigley said...

Wow...I beat Maddie Grimmer! Not like I physically beat her, but I'm first on the blog. You know what I mean. Anyway, we looked at George Grosz last semester as well and I found his work very inspirational both times. Formally I think that the high contrast is very effective for gaining veiwers attention and drawing them into the content. Grosz deals with hisotrical issues that I don't know much about. I do know, however, that they have current importance and therefore I want to learn more. I'm excited to meet the lawyers and pick their brains about justice next week!

Sarahhigley said...

Oh darnit, I wasn't first. You win Ali.

Jessalyn said...

I am a huge fan of Ralph Steadman. He has actually inspired bits and pieces of my final series. I have never seen George Grosz but his and Steadman's style are somewhat familiar.

Its about showing the truth, as sick as it may be. Society truth is rarely every shown to its full potential so when people see it without their blinders on, it tends to look sick and barbaric. The funny thing is that they usually are intermingled with it everyday.

Shawn said...

very very fun prints! I agree that they show the sick truth. Content!!

zoe said...

I also really like this quote, "It is a common mistake to believe that sick drawings indicate a sick mind."
(It reminds me of the saying that a clean desk means a diseased mind...).. i think it is so true. Clearly these are pretty sick prints, but it is also clear that Grosz is not the sick one.. what is sick is what is happening & wrong in the world.

Maddy Grimmer said...

I really liked "one day we'll get even". I think it was one of the most powerful examples of his extensive use of line and his cartoon-ish depiction of his subjects.
I like that his works are about Germany and the problems they were encountering, rather than another artist focused on America's problems, like only ours were worthy of attention. The photolithograph Civilization Marches On reminds me a lot of what i'm doing right now for my final project...actualy quite a lot. I like the overall roughness of his works and the sort of distorted quality that he gives to the figures in them. And i also remember him from last semester..

Mark K said...

Showing the results of the economic crash in Germany after WW1 in the form of prints I thought was very cool. "Whoever can, swims, and whoever is weak, goes under" really caught my eye. This big businessman hoarding money, smoking a cigar, and drinking champagne while someone emaciating away comes up for help and he just seems to pull the money closer. Grosz has got some pretty rad prints. Steadman has got some awesome artwork himself, awesome fellow.

Toni said...

George's works are good. I like how it all deeply represents something, yet is portrayed in a cartoonish manner that focuses on line. Like he's suggesting we try to blindly view the world as simple and linear, but behind the scenes things are complex and horrible. I reaaaally dig Ralph's stuff though. The colors and craziness of it all is amazing. Really liked Lizard Lounge by him. So complex and appearing to mesh reality with imagery. Awesome.

chels said...

i think the way that Grosz depicts his content ..in a cartoonish way is really effective, he doesn't use much contrast and it is simple in black and white, but his point is extrememly visable because of this. Over the Summer I was reading a book called an Introduction to the History of Russia and throughout the book the author used comic strips alot like Grosz's to explain the political injustice and the people in power.

AnnCreates87 said...

I think the cartoonish style is a nice contrast to the dark and serious content in the prints. I too really enjoy the quote about "common mistake to believe that ick drawings indicate a sick mind."

I know that my personal drawings are dark, sinister, and sometimes sick, but that doesn't mean that I have a sick mind. I think like Grosz artists just show what is sick with the world. Sick, sad things happen, and maybe since we draw them, it just means we recognize them more and we're just shining a light on these things for the unfortunate ones who are a little slow on the uptake.

Anyway, I'm rambling, I thought the prints were amazing, I loved the line quality and the images.

Jaime said...

I really liked his prints they show deep content in a more cartoonish undertone. It reminds me that I don't have to make everything look like life to portray life.

Mallory_Heesch said...

I love his unique depiction of the human form in all its grotesque glory! His ability to truthfully expose all the ugliness in the world is also an aspect of his work that I really appreciate.

Britt Vogt said...

I think politically charged charactures are the fastest and most efficient way to spread your message to the masses.... I like how he fills space while incorporating visuals that are relevant to his message

Nate S said...

and i'm late...fail. Anyway I love the content of Gorsz's pieces. While, i don't always understand the context you can tell he's brutally honest and not afraid to piss people off. Yup, definitely agree with Ali, I respect and can identify with an attempt to make barbaric of unsettling things say something and in some way be...ummm beautiful? Flashbacks to the millions of times my mother and sister probe "can't you draw something happy?" Anyway i like how the subjective influences the objective...ex. he distorts people when he thinks something is out of wack or distorted. Pretty wicked sweet.

Nate S said...

in case someone still checks this thread

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocHrYVF4uLk

Kirky B said...

What is a photolitho?!
I think I could get this effect by live-tracing a litho in adobe illustrator.

I was really excited by Steadman saying "drawing could be a weapon against evil". We should always be using art as a means of fighting off the bad things in the world.

Kirky B said...

^^
Nate that is sick nasty!

willison said...

this man has a lot of passion. its neat the amount of thought that goes into each of his prints. i especially like his "high treason" print.

Johnson said...

Do some of the faces drawn by Groz remind anyone else of Beavis and Butthead?? I think that fits well with his subject matter, although way after his time. It seems like the sinister/gross looking cartoons really make the business people and governmental leaders seem much more sinister than they would if drawn realistically. I like how brutally honest his prints are, he brings up issues that many people were probably afraid to talk about or become involved with.

Zach Morin said...

I hate to use "cartoony" or "comic" to describe work from artists like this. Those terms seem so freshman-like and that clearly isn't how their work is at all. Actually, I quite admire Grosz'z work in the way that I admire Picasso's work as well. Despite the minimalism and simplicity of some of the drawings, the visual content remains overwhelming. It would seem as though Grosz had a knack for being able to reduce figures (among other other elements in his work) to simple shapes and forms yet still emphasizing the significant details. I'm actually quite impressed with how graphic the work is. It has that propaganda feel to it. This is another artist which I can use to help shape my work.

Ali said...

Hey Guys, Check out this amazing woman. Irena Sendler.

From the email I got.

"There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an 'ulterior motive' ... She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews. Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids..) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize ... She was not selected."

Jumpy said...

The subject and portrayal is "eloquently barbaric" I almost did a print kind of like the one I think it was titled "The ones that can, swim, the ones that are weak drown." I must have a sick mind as well. I think to get straight to the point is a great way to portray content. A smack in the face with the graphic images is just what is needed. The world seems to be a little too sweet and beautiful compared to the immorality and injustices created by men.

Olivia said...

The prints by George Grosz were very impressive. I liked how simple his lines are. The prints remind me of political cartoons for presidents and such. I sometimes get so caught up in making things look life-like and it was a good reminder to see that simplicity can have just as much meaning if not more than all the aquatint and color and everything else. The images alone speak for themselves.

I am excited to see what everyone has been working on! I love critiques and hearing people give an explanation for what they have been doing.

Lisa Ulik said...

...love Steadman's quote about Grosz. I searched for more and found an expansion, which is a great read. steadman on grosz

Keriann said...

Unfortunately I wasn't able to see Lost for very long. I saw the very end of his presentation, and then I got to look at his prints.

Grosz's prints are full of content. I think the way he uses black and white supports that. I really enjoy his use of line, it is very effective.

Cedarose said...

The tragedy of the sickness in society is that it relates to all of us. I think that is what makes me so uncomfortable with grotesque images, is that I don't want to realize that madness within myself.

lost said...

hello, printmaking types! wanted to stop by and say hi and thank you for allowing me back into the shop of love. hopefully you all took something away that will help you in your journies to greatness. thank you all for your kind words and i look for to seeing more of everyones work. don't slow down, push through....the semesters almost over.

Jon Vitkus said...

i really admire the way he uses line. he creates such a full image. also i agree with the statement that you don't have to make everything realistic to portray real things. he is a great example of that.

TonY Vang said...

critiq day's looking good. : D

Joanne said...

so i definitely looked at this on sunday but stupid me didn't comment.

i admire that the content in his work i so strong. it definitely portrays the truth, no matter how sick it might be.

i'm sad that i missed "the lost" but i had a lesser class that unfortunately i could not skip that day :(

kreger.anni said...

I really love the linear quality to his prints. The content is very shocking and the graphic lines and almost picasso esque figures seem to emphasize the heaviness and disturbing quality of these images.

Mingo said...

It is good to see a print where the background is intentional and not filler. As this is a delima that I tend to run into, which is why my prints almost never have a background. His lines are very strong and captivating in his prints.