This almost one meter square canvas was painted by the German expressionist artist Georges Grosz between 1916 and 1917. And today this work hangs in the rooms of theThyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
This is an image of his hometown, Berlin, a city where he lived for much of his life (1893 – 1959), except for a period of exile in United States during the harshest years of Nazism. And the moment in which he portrays her is a moment of effervescence, a time when the First World War is being fought, and yet the German capital has an intense nightlife.
In fact, it is known that he painted the work during a he alth leave he received while at the front. In this way, he arrived in his city and saw how different life was being there, where above all there was no such iron authority as in the army, something that he detested.
The fact is that he took advantage of this permission to paint non-stop, and thus try to capture the essence of Berlin in those years. Something that is what he shows us in this work Metrópolis. A painting in which we see his fascination with the big city, but at the same time knowing how to see that there are both positive and very negative things in it.
Above all we see chaos, excitement and tension. Characters with deformed faces abound, characters that run and gobumping into each other, while the city offers them crowded bars, theaters, cinemas, trams…
In addition, there is a hearse that carries a skeleton and is pulled by white horses. This is yet another element that embodies the style of German Expressionism that Grosz represented so well. In short, his images are based on representing a violent and also desperate society.
Another interesting detail is to see the flag of the United States on a building. It is not known whether Grosz painted it from the beginning, or added it after the incorporation of the American power into the armed conflict in 1917. Be that as it may, it is clear that Grosz was terrified by the nationalistic madness of his country and thought that this war could not end in no good.
Because of this attitude, years later he would be viewed with very bad eyes by the authorities of National Socialism, something that happened to many other avant-garde German artists , who had to leave their country. And so did Grosz, who took refuge in American exile.
But in addition to the historical value of this work, we can also stop to contemplate certain pictorial details. For example, the perspective that he poses for the image. He uses a towering lamppost on the corner of the central building to practically divide the canvas into two symmetrical halves. Two halves in which each has its own vanishing point, in both cases true loopholes for people.
Y of the whole setthe reddish color is striking. A tone that has something infernal, and a lot of grotesque, because that is the vision he has of that place and that historical moment.