Wednesday, May 26, 2010

berlin diaries, part two

My second excerpt from the Kessler diaries again describes George Grosz, one of those artists who so clearly epitomizes his time and place. I thought it would be easy to find good excerpts about Berlin and its characters in the diaries, but unfortunately so many of them require political contextualizing, especially in the years 1918-1923 or so, that you simply need to read the whole book to get the gist of it. It's really astonishing, that Kessler fills each entry with bevies of names of assassinated socialists, anti-Semitic sisters of philosophers, and physicists (that is--Liebknecht and Luxemburg, Frau Nietzsche, and Einstein). Here's some more Grosz for you:
Friday, 7 July 1992 Berlin

Spent the afternoon with the painter and draughtsman George Grosz. The devotion of his art exclusively to depiction of the repulsiveness of bourgeois philistinism is, so to speak, merely the counterpart to some sort of secret ideal of beauty that he conceals as though it were a badge of shame. In his drawings he harasses with fanatical hatred the antithesis to this ideal, which he protects from public gaze like something sacred. His whole art is a campaign of extermination against what is irreconcilable with his secret 'lady love.' Instead of singing her praises like a troubadour, he does battle against her opponents with unsparing fury like a dedicated knight. Only in his colours does he ever let his secret ideal show through. His is an excessively sensitive nature which turns outrageously brutal by reason of its sensibility, and he has the talent for delineating this brutality creatively.

Becher and Dr. Gumbel dined with me. I warned the latter. I have sound reasons for believing him to be on the list of those due for assassination.
George Grosz, The City

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