30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm)
(Berlin, Germany, 1893 - 1959, West Berlin, Germany)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Location: Currently on view
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]