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Encyclopedia Britannica Collection

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Image of The Wanderer

© Estate of George Grosz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The Wanderer

30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm)

George Grosz
United States (Berlin, Germany, 1893 - 1959, West Berlin, Germany)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1951.6
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object
Collection: Encyclopedia Britannica Collection

Ten years after fleeing Germany during Hitler’s rise to power, George Grosz painted The Wanderer in New York. As World War II raged over the ocean, Grosz created this intensely personal response to his experience as a German soldier in World War I and his 1933 emigration to the United States.
[Gallery label text, 2007]

Painted in the midst of World War II, The Wanderer is an expression of the artist’s recent life experience. George Grosz was an established painter in Germany who, like many others, spoke out against the totalitarian Nazi regime. For his own safety and that of his family, he relocated to the United States. The Wanderer was one of a group of so-called ‘hell pictures’; in a letter, he wrote:

I work a lot…I painted a little picture – The Wanderer –
myself of course…The resonance of explosion and
destruction often shakes me bodily.

The explosion and destruction was a reference to the war-torn European continent that he had left behind, as well as a reference to his own emotional volatility as he tried to adjust, with little success, to his new life in America, suggested in the painting by the seagrasses he knew from Long Island and Cape Cod beaches.

The Wanderer was probably one of the newest paintings acquired for the Encyclopedia Britannica Collection, as the collection was formed in 1943, the same year that Grosz painted this work. Stylistically, the painting’s expression of personal and cultural angst – achieved through desolate subject matter, somber palette, and unquiet line – was very much an alternative view to the more upbeat images of wartime artists like Norman Rockwell.

[Gallery label text, 2006]

Other inscriptions on back of frame, illegible or written on top of each other

Encyclopedia Britannica Collection of Contemporary American Painting, Chicago, IL; purchased from them by Senator William Benton, CT, 1948; purchased from him by the Gallery in 1951

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
wandering jew
Imaginary figure of a Jerusalem shoemaker who, taunting Jesus on the way to crucifixion, was told by him to "go on forever till I return." See good article in Jewish Encyclopedia

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Web Links See links to web pages and lesson plans
Seeing America Inservice Materials from a teacher in-service presentation Spring 2008
Seeing America Chapter on George Grosz's The Wanderer, written by Nancy Norwood.
MAGexplore MAGexplore provides in-depth information and close looking at over 200 objects in MAG's collection.

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