George Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun, 1926

George Grosz at The Heckscher Museum of Art

The Dada artist George Grosz (1893-1959) had a close relationship to Huntington, New York and to the Heckscher Museum of Art.

Born in Berlin, Grosz was a leading member of the Dada movement there and later painted many caustic works criticizing the rise of Nazism. Like many artists who fled Europe, Grosz immigrated to the United States, settling in Bayside, Queens in 1933 and teaching at the Art Students League in New York. In 1947, he moved further out on Long Island to Huntington where he lived a quarter mile away from the Heckscher Museum of Art. He was instrumental in getting the Museum to reopen full-time after World War II and, under the auspices of the Huntington Township Art League, he taught art at the Heckscher. Grosz returned to Germany in May 1959 to live out his days, but died from a fall down a flight of stairs within weeks of his return.

Following World War II, when German art was especially unpopular, Grosz’s large masterpiece Eclipse of the Sun of 1926 became available from a Long Island source in 1968. The Heckscher’s brilliant director Eva Gatling pursued its acquisition with singular commitment and vigor. The painting is a scathing indictment of the military-industrial complex and of materialism, featuring an industrialist, a general, and four headless members of the bourgeoisie, all under a sun that is obscured by a dollar sign. Eclipse of the Sun is the Heckscher’s most acclaimed painting and one of the most important paintings on Long Island. The Heckscher Museum of Art owns 14 other oil paintings and works on paper by George Grosz.

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