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Eclipse of the Sun

By Michael W. Schantz

The painting Eclipse of the Sun (seen the in photo above), a masterpiece by world famous artist George Grosz (1893-1959), is playing a prominent and pivotal role in the exhibition New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933 (October 4, 2015 – January 18, 2016) mounted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the first comprehensive exhibition in the United States to explore the art this period.

The painting is on loan to LACMA from The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York (  Eclipse of the Sun, which was acquired in 1968 during the directorship of Eva Gatling, is among the most treasured pieces in the Museum’s outstanding permanent collection of art.  To quote contributing scholar to the exhibition catalogue, Nana Bahlmann, the painting “. . .  shows mindless bureaucrats (some of them whom are literally missing their heads) surrounding the German president, Paul von Hindenburg, while a sinister functionary of the arms industry whispers in his ear. A dollar sign hovering in the corner symbolizes the driving motive of the men, while the bloody sword on the table and the skeleton in the lower right corner represents the past and future victims of such conspiracies.” She further notes that works like Eclipse of the Sun “. . . demonstrate how Grosz became not just a leading critical artistic voice of the 1920s but the ultimate satirist and chronicler of the Weimar Republic.”  Of George Grosz Bahlmann also states: “Together with Max Beckman and Otto Dix he is regarded as one of the preeminent representatives of New Objectivity and generally as one of the most important German artists of the first half of the twentieth century.”

This video discusses the background and history of New Objectivity, an approach to art making in Germany that emerged just after the first World War.

The painting will have a triumphant return to The Heckscher Museum in late January 2016 and will once again be on prominent view in the Museum galleries soon thereafter.

Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum of Art

Video courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)