Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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George Grosz, Explosion, 1917, oil on panel, 47.8 x 68.2 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York.

© SESAM, Paris, 1998.

The age of artillery

45 - George Grosz

In January 1917, Grosz, who up to then had been convalescing, was recalled to his unit. The following day he was hospitalised and shortly afterwards, owing to the seriousness of his depression and the nervous disorders which affected him, he was interned in an institution for the mentally ill. He experienced repeated attacks accompanied by nightmarish hallucinations. In April, the painter was declared unfit for further service. Explosion was painted shortly afterwards, not as the memory of the fighting, but rather as an allegory of the destruction: a town is razed and catches fire in a bombardment and cannot escape the destructive fury that had taken hold of Europe. This is Cubo-Futurism in a dreamlike vein.