An image of Murder in Ackerstrasse

George Grosz

(Germany 26 Jul 1893 – 06 Jul 1959)

Murder in Ackerstrasse

Not on display
Further information

The history of Western art is not so empty of violent images as to render this one either surprising or tasteless. Martyrdoms, complete with disembowellings and decapitations, were a mainstay of Christian iconography. Nonetheless, the unflinching George Grosz does shock with this matter-of-fact portrayal of a modern crime of passion. In its very ordinariness of observed detail it is disturbing; as though an alarm clock and a lucky horseshoe had the same weight as a bloodied hatchet and a headless corpse. And where is the victim's head? This, the most crucial detail of all, is missing. Conjecture as to its whereabouts is one of the most unsettling aspects of this gruesome print. The timid murderer and presumptive rapist, aghast only at his own momentary strength, washes his hands in a basin inadequate for such an act of hygiene. Associated with both the Dada and the expressionist movements, Grosz was a vigilant anti-militarist and humanitarian who applied his art like a scalpel to the ills of society. His particular target was the moral corruption of his native country, Germany, in the period between the two world wars.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.

42.5 x 33.8 cm sheet (irreg.)
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. sheet, pencil "GROSZ / 1917".

Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 1984
Accession number
© George Grosz/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Copyright Agency