Last week it was possible to give only a preliminary introduction to the paintings of George Grosz which are being shown in the Dunster House exhibit of contemporary watercolors and lithographs. By making use of a specific example, a painting entitled "The Way Of All Flesh," perhaps a clearer and more concrete expression of the artist's method can be presented.
This watercolor is perhaps the best of his works included in the exhibit. Grosz shows, by means of florid, fleshy color, the essential similarity existing between a man and the side of raw meat which he is preparing to cut. Placed on a table behind which this butcher-like individual is standing, are plates and bowls which contain ground meats, salamis, and other foods representing the products for which the carcass of the slaughtered animal is utilized. In the lower left corner of the painting, there is a potted plant, the pale green leaves of which serve as a restful contrast to the warm color used elsewhere. Thus, in Grosz's "The Way Of All Flesh," we find a pictorial presentation of a cycle of life. And each step in this natural cycle is made to appear corrupted and, in a sense, unnatural. For the plant, which is the source of all animal existence, is taken from its natural environment and placed in a pot; the animal, once alive, is now only a piece of meat swinging from a hook and waiting to be further dissected; the foods which are formed from the carcass are lying on a table before being completely prepared for consumption by man; and the man, who is supposed to be the end and aim of the whole process, is shown handling the meat and is made by Grosz to resemble the slaughtered animal from which he receives his food and means of existence. It can be noticed, I think, that Grosz pursues his line of imagery with the tenacity of a metaphysical poet.
Several landscapes by Adolf Dehn lend a placid note to an otherwise fantastic exhibit. With paintings by Grosz, Braque, Archipenko, and Gleizes decorating the walls, it might be assumed that the conservative Dehn watercolors would be reduced to insignificance. But Dehn does more than hold his own. His clear, wind-washed landscapes are executed in a manner similar to that of Edward Hopper. The colors are neutralized but are far from dirty; Dehn's whole technique is that of a careful, better-than-average artist.