For its fifth anniversary Akim Monet Side by Side Gallery presents its 15th exhibition "Der Kandidat", George Grosz and the 2016 election. The visitor explores the electoral process of this year's American presidential candidacy through a selection of outstanding works on paper by German-American artist George Grosz, side by side with images pulled from current affairs, newspaper clippings, and books from the German interwar period through to contemporary.
Grosz is still celebrated today for his groundbreaking contributions to the Berlin Dada scene and Neue Sachlichkeit; through his exceptional ability to extrapolate the essential, prevalent power structures, and social constructs, the artist created drawings that are both ironic and light, yet critical of Weimar Republic society. In 1929, Grosz designed costumes for the play "Der Kandidat" by Carl Sternheim, which premiered at the Deutsches Theater on January 27, 1930. Inspired by the play “Le Candidat” by Gustave Flaubert of 1873, Sternheim transposed the action from post-revolutionary France to 1920’s Germany. The costume designs on view – 'Evelyn und Louise', 'Ein Wähler. Spießertyp' and 'Bach'- represent archetypes from Germany between the wars.
2016, nearly 100 years after "Der Kandidat" was presented in Berlin, Georges Grosz’ works are more pertinent than ever before. The players might have changed, but the game remains the same: instead of Herbert Hoover –probably the most unpopular American president in the end of his first term in 1932, of whom we present Grosz’ mordant portrait during the re-election campaign, it is Donald Trump who is now the candidate. His public appearances polarize voters and just like the main character of “Le Candidat" Trump also uses angry rhetoric to acquire votes. Following the disastrous situation involving the father of a fallen Muslim US soldier, nude pictures of Trump’s wife Melania were splashed across the tabloids. There is speculation that Donald Trump personally leaked the images to the New York Post. Sex sells – and it distracts from wrong decisions.
The juxtaposition of the George Grosz works on paper with photographs drawn from newspapers and the internet allow for exciting parallels between central figures of contemporary politics and society with those from the Weimar Republic. Grosz was a visionary in his time, creating works that remain poignant today. Upon discovering them, one has a sense of ‘déjà-vu’ through connections with current affairs, thus seeing them in a new light.