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[Music] we're in the Minneapolis Institute of Art meeow looking at a painting by George Grosz titled remembering Gross was an expert portraitist so when he makes this self-portrait he's able to capture the look of somebody who is haunted having this private moment gross in this painting is hunched over in this indeterminant space that is very thickly painted and his head is the only thing that's clearly defined his face is so sharply defined but what's interesting is he's not looking out at us he seems to be looking slightly to his right Gross is in this vortex and storm that is partially evoked through the slashing and abstract paint his eyes are open a staring off but we don't give the sense that he's looking at anything it's this ability to convey to us that he is having this reflective moment where he's imagining something or he's remembering back to something he had been one of the architects of German contemporary art his work was in public institutions he was very successful already and this was not made in Germany it was made in New York in 1932 grosse got an invitation to teach at the Art Students League in New York and he went for several months and then went back to Germany just in time to witness the changes that were starting to happen and in early January he and his family left Germany and went to New York and so he titles it remembering and it seems to be gross in a kind of meditation or trance thinking about his role as an exile while Germany is in turmoil that's reflected in the rest of the painting and it's interesting that grosse has portrayed himself with his back turned to the violence whereas we see a couple just behind him it seemed to be witnessing at firsthand it looks like he's in the hollowed-out ruins of a building and yes behind him there seems to be this person with an orange shirt on who's carrying another person helping them away and then in a deep distance there's another suggestion of another part of ruins they keep going on people often ask do you dream in color or black and white and to me the memory and imagining part of this cause grows too up the intense glowing almost like that glowing embers of a fire that defines that shirt and then on the far left you have this beautiful deep blue that sets it at night it's hard for me to imagine what it would have been like to have left my country behind a country that I saw slipping into a kind of horror is this something that gross actually saw probably not it seems to be gross thinking about the kinds of things that might be happening in Germany that he's escaped this painting was made before the Holocaust was fully understood but the terror against the Jews was known the terror against political adversaries was known and in fact we know that at least one of his early friends had been murdered by the Nazis Krause left a lot behind he left other family members behind his wife and his two sons left but his mother and many of his relations were still there so getting an opportunity to leave to go to New York must have carried this weight of responsibility and guilt with it he went back to Europe in 1935 on a return trip and he wrote after that that he started to see all over Europe a rising fascist wave and so that must have confirmed his instincts to leave he had been persecuted as an artist who had political leanings under less oppressive regimes and he must have known that the Nazis were going to come for him gross saw the writing on the wall and knew that he needed to get out of Germany this is made in 1937 soon after the bombing of the Spanish city Guernica which Picasso made a famous painting about and photographs of the ruins of that city were published in the newspaper so that is something that gross might have seen even before that gross had been critical of Hitler and made caricatures of him and gross had been highly critical through his art of what he called the pillars of society the church the military of the middle class his whole life Gross was a troublemaker and he would have thought of that as a kind of badge of honor for an artist somebody who was a rabble rouser and stirred things up and pointed out social injustice and in fact the Intertoto Kunst exhibition that degenerate art exhibition opened in 1937 in Germany as an exhibition that was meant to ridicule international avant-garde art but it also included our that was seen by the Nazis as promoting a degenerate thinking the degenerate thinking to the Nazis manifested in subject matter that was critical of the state or the military or of religion but also a formal experiment so anything that had been developed by artists considering themselves modernists so cubism futurism Dada which Gross had been involved in things like that were under that umbrella term of degenerate gross here is an exile and although he had very little money from the work that he was doing teaching art he did help to support a number of his friends other artists that came to New York seeking refuge grossest story reminds us of how our culture has been enriched but also has been challenged and has been transformed by waves of people from different countries coming to the United States and making their lives but also affecting the micro cultures around them whether we're talking about New York City we're talking about Minnesota some scholars have noted that America came into its own in large part thanks to intellectuals artists musicians physicists and others that were fleeing Nazi Germany and it's an important reminder of the positive impact that immigrants can have especially at a time now in the early 21st century when sentiment has turned in some quarters against immigration and the alternative the story is that Gross is turned away or doesn't have a sponsor it doesn't have an opportunity here and is left in Germany and we have a sense as he did of what would have happened there there would have been no more George Gross and no more paintings gross stated something about this that I think is very interesting he said I was compelled by an inner warning to paint destruction and ruins some of my paintings I called apocalyptic landscapes though that was quite some time before the real thing took place [Music]