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The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley The best laid schemes of mice and men Often go awry From Robert Burns’ 1875 poem “To a Mouse”


Akim Monet Fine Arts, 100 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 700 Santa Monica, CA 90401 United States of America

Telephone +1 (424) 394 8480 info@akimmonetfinearts.com www.akimmonetfinearts.com

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY

Akim Monet Fine Arts, 100 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 700 Santa Monica, CA 90401 United States of America

Telephone +1 (424) 394 8480 info@akimmonetfinearts.com www.akimmonetfinearts.com

BY APPOINTMENT ONLY


OF MICE AND MEN George Grosz and the 2020 election

From October 5 to December 5, 2020 - by appointment only


Foreword


Owing to my love for literature, I occasionally give to my exhibitions titles lifted from significant books. Although the references to the original writings are loose, I see the presentations themselves as “inspired visual essays.” On the heels of “Sex is kicking death in the ass while singing” (Charles Bukowski), “The animal’s conference” (Erich Kaestner), and “Bridge over chaos” (John Milton), I am delighted to present “Of mice and men” (John Steinbeck), the sequel to an exhibition I mounted in Berlin exactly four years ago entitled “Der Kandidat: George Grosz and the 2016 election.” When the idea for “Der Kandidat” came to me on the eve of Trump’s nomination as the GOP’s presidential contender during the summer of 2016, I could not have imagined that the character I saw as little more than an artful New York real estate swindler who was not above leaking “nudies” of his own wife to deflect public wrath over his racist call to block all Muslims from entering the United States, would actually make it to hold the highest office in the nation.

Not unlike George Grosz, who left Germany when Hitler was elected in 1933, I moved my family from Germany to the United States soon after the right-wing political party, “Alternative für Deutschland,” won 94 seats in the Bundestag in 2017, instantly becoming the third-largest party in Germany.


Little did I know that in Donald Trump’s America, I would find many racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic tendencies linked to far-right movements such as neo-Nazism, also associated with the German AfD party. During the last two years, echoing the period in Germany that immediately preceded WWII, in horror, I have watched a display of racism, propaganda, and death unfold in America. Building on the strength of the success of “Der Kandidat” I have increased my holding of George Grosz works by acquiring a number of exceptional ink drawings executed between 1923 and 1941 which, along with two superb drawings I kept from “Der Kandidat,” I present here for the first time in “Of mice and men: George Grosz and the 2020 election.” In addition to the conversation between eight Grosz works and the present context surrounding the upcoming presidential election, I have selected significant postwar and contemporary works by four pre-eminent American artists who have succeeded in adding a high degree of political activism to their sociologically relevant artistic practice.


Inspired by the courage of artists Theaster Gates, George Grosz, Cliff Joseph, Paul McCarthy, and Sterling Ruby, and hoping to live up to the ring of Martin Luther King Jr.’s below words, I have worked assiduously to mount an exhibition that opens on October 5, 2020, the first day of the early voting period, a month culminating in election day, Tuesday November 3, 2020. “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Martin Luther King, Jr. I leave the last word to First Lady Michelle Obama, an opening salvo, in fact, during this important moment in our history: “Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences. And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.” Michelle Obama


In this spirit, I have created an Instagram campaign to accompany the exhibition. Every two days, during the month prior to the election, I am posting a series of composite images that juxtapose each work in “Of mice and men: George Grosz and the 2020 election,� with instances relevant to the present context surrounding the presidential election. This suite of images is the component of the exhibition. Akim Monet, Los Angeles September 5, 2020

N.B. The views expressed in the composite images subsequent to each work in the present catalogue and in the Instagram posts are those of Akim Monet alone.


Plates


Theaster GATES (b 1973) Asphalt painting for Huguenot House with altar Wood, tar roofing, shoe polish and nails, in 2 parts
 43 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 3 1/2 in (110.5 x 52.1 x 8.9 cm) 21 x 24 x 24 in (53.3 x 60.9 x 60.9 cm) circa 2013


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Garantievorschlag des Reichsverbandes der Deutschen Industrie Offer of Guaranty by the Federal Association of German Industry Reed pen and pen and ink on paper 20 5/8 x 25 5/8 in (52,3 x 65,1 cm) 1923 Signed “Grosz” bottom-right, and inscribed “August Thalheimer gewidmet von George Grosz 13.6.23” bottom-left (August Thalheimer dedicated by George Grosz 13.6.23). Inscribed: “Garantievorschlag des Reichsverbandes der Deutschen Industrie“ and “Leih uns deinen Säbel gegen die Kommunisten“ (lend us your sabre against the communists). Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 3-70-8


The present ink drawing from 1923 illustrates the power dynamics between France and Germany following World War I. Two German gentlemen bow and plead to a massive frog (a derogatory term for the French) that holds a bloody sword in its mouth. The figure on the left promises a written guarantee of good payment and the kneeling figure to his right begs for assistance in fighting the Communists. George Grosz ended his membership in the German Communist Party in 1923, the year this work was drawn, after a six-months stay in the Soviet Union which had left him unimpressed. Grosz had joined the Spartacus League in the last months of 1918 (German: Spartakusbund), a Marxist revolutionary movement organized in Germany during World War I, which subsequently renamed itself the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD), and so joined August Thalheimer to whom the present work is dedicated, the man recognized as the main theorist of the KPD. August Thalheimer was part of the local government in WĂźrttemberg, serving as Minister of Finance during the crisis of 1923. He and the head of the communist party, Heinrich Brandler were blamed for the consequences. Like George Grosz who emigrated to the United States in 1933, Thalmeier went into exile in Paris in 1932.


22

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


“Guarantee proposal of the Reich Association of German Industry” “Lend us your saber against the communists”


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Recto: Stehender weiblicher Akt Standing female Nude Verso: Sich beugender Rßckenakt Bending Nude from the Back Pencil, carpenter’s pen and charcoal on paper 23 5/8 x 18 1/8 in (60 x 46,1 cm) 1927


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Oberarzt Dr. Bautze Chief Physician Dr. Bautze “Phase 4” drawing for the background projection for Schwejk Brush, reed pen, pen and ink, and chalk 18 1/8 x 23 3/8 in (46 x 59,3 cm) 1927 Signed “Grosz” lower right and widely annotated Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 2-141-2


The satirical novel The Good Soldier Schweik (also spelled Schwejk or Švejk) by Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923) is one of the greatest antiwar books of all time. In the story Hašek detailed the life and times of his fictional character, the rotund and mildmannered Joseph Schweik, who is inducted into the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to fight against the Allied Powers in World War I (1914-1918). An enthusiastic patriot, Schweik is also a lumbering idiot who, in his zealotry to carry out the orders of his superiors, succeeds only in creating havoc. But one is never certain if Schweik’s ineptness reveals his true nature or if it is clever posturing as a means of self-preservation. Whatever the case, his foul-ups keep him from reaching the war’s bloodspattered frontline, until the story’s ending, when he finally arrives at the front but disappears without a trace while on patrol. In 1928 Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), the German Marxist director and producer of political theater during the years of the Weimar Republic, developed a landmark stage play adaptation of The Good Soldier Schweik that he presented at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz in Berlin. George Grosz created the stage backgrounds for the play, making hundreds of pen and ink drawings for the production. His drawings were made into an animated film that was backprojected onto the stage to coincide with the play’s action – a groundbreaking theatrical technique common to Piscator’s productions. Courtesy of Mark Vallen


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Jeder Schuss ein Russ Everyone shoot a Russ (ian) Drawing for the background projection for Schwejk Brush, reed pen and pen and ink 20 ¼ x 25 ½ in (51,4 x 64,9 cm) 1927 Widely annotated Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered UC-409-23


The satirical novel The Good Soldier Schweik (also spelled Schwejk or Švejk) by Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923) is one of the greatest antiwar books of all time. In the story Hašek detailed the life and times of his fictional character, the rotund and mildmannered Joseph Schweik, who is inducted into the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to fight against the Allied Powers in World War I (1914-1918). An enthusiastic patriot, Schweik is also a lumbering idiot who, in his zealotry to carry out the orders of his superiors, succeeds only in creating havoc. But one is never certain if Schweik’s ineptness reveals his true nature or if it is clever posturing as a means of self-preservation. Whatever the case, his foul-ups keep him from reaching the war’s bloodspattered frontline, until the story’s ending, when he finally arrives at the front but disappears without a trace while on patrol. In 1928 Erwin Piscator (1893-1966), the German Marxist director and producer of political theater during the years of the Weimar Republic, developed a landmark stage play adaptation of The Good Soldier Schweik that he presented at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz in Berlin. George Grosz created the stage backgrounds for the play, making hundreds of pen and ink drawings for the production. His drawings were made into an animated film that was backprojected onto the stage to coincide with the play’s action – a groundbreaking theatrical technique common to Piscator’s productions. Courtesy of Mark Vallen


nging drugs. ‘They’re bri ging crime. They’re brin ists’ They’re rap

‘Ban all M

uslims’

rump is ‘Donald J. T total and calling for a utdown of complete sh tering the Muslims en s’ United State ‘Each shoot a Russian” “Down with Serbia” “Hurrah” “Serbia must die”


‘Kung fl

u’


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Rache für Wien Revenge for Vienna Brush, reed pen and pen and ink on paper 25 9/16 x 20 9/16 in (65 x 52,3 cm) 1927 Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 3-205-7


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Hoover Brush, reed pen and pen and ink 27 11/16 x 18 1/4 in (70,3 x 46,2 cm) 1932 Annotated lower left Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 2-146-2


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) Cat and mouse Reed pen, pen and ink and pencil on paper 13 ¼ x 20 1/8 in (33,7 x 51,1 cm) 1936 Signed and dated “Grosz 36” bottom right and annotated “43 cat & mouse” bottom center. Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 4-105-2 The present work is a variation of the drawing in: O. Henry, “The Voice of the City,”The Limited Editions Club, New York 1935, page 63


The innocent game of cat and mouse comes to a brutal finale in the present work. Grosz expertly juxtaposes the violence of the cat’s success with a playful backdrop, complete with a butterfly floating through the air. This perennial power struggle has dire consequences, especially as considered within the context of the political events of 1936, three years after Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany and the artist emigrated to the United States of America. Vanessa Fusco

When Grosz came to New York in 1933, living first in Hotels in Manhattan and at a private home in the Village before renting November 20 in Bayside on Long Island a house with a studio, he roamed, like he had done in Berlin, the city by day and night, filling one sketch book after the other with whatever his observing eye discovered as noteworthy. In the evenings, back in his small hotel rooms and then later in the year in his studio, Grosz executed in large drawings and watercolors. In regards to the drawing in O. Henry, “The Voice of the City” of which the present work is a variation, Ralph Jentsch remarks: It was in 1934 that George Macy, publisher of the limited Edition Club in New York, gave Grosz the assignment to illustrate O. Henry’s selected short stories, published a year later under the title “The Voice of the City and Other Stories”. The scene, a mouse attacking a bird, is an illustration for the chapter “The Assessor of Success”. The portrayal of an aggressive cay and a helpless, inferior creature like a mouse or bird, stands in place also for human behavior: The power of the fittest prevails. Courtesy of Ralph Jentsch


George GROSZ (1893 - 1959) The Bum’s Rush for Allah Reed pen, pen and ink, and opaque white on paper 22 1/2 x 18 7/8 in (57,1 x 48 cm) 1941 Titled “The Bum’s Rush for Allah” lower right and inscribed “to Ben Hecht 1001 Afternoon” Stamped on the reverse “GEORGE GROSZ NACHLASS” and numbered 4-49-7


Cliff JOSEPH (b. 1922) Southern Comfort Oil on board 16 x 16 in (40.64 x 40.64 cm) 1965 Signed, titled and dated on verso


Paul McCARTHY (b. 1945) Benjamin WEISSMAN (b. 1957) Naotaka HIRO (b. 1972) Nao, I Think This Is Your Beer (Kill the man) Acrylic, collage, watercolor, graphite on paper Framed size: 26 x 20 in (66.04 x 50.8 cm) 2015


Paul McCARTHY (b. 1945) Benjamin WEISSMAN (b. 1957) Naotaka HIRO (b. 1972) Nao, I Think This Is Your Beer (Head Jesus Dead) Acrylic, collage, watercolor, graphite on paper Framed size: 26 x 20 in (66.04 x 50.8 cm) 2015


Paul MCCARTHY (b. 1945) Dead Viking Acrylic fur, wood, rubber and found costume 12 x 72 x 24 in (30.4 x 183 x 61 cm) 1992


“Well, for myself, I can only say that [humour] is to like the laugh, and wanting to laugh. I like to be around people who are making jokes, and constantly funny. Personally I like that. In my pieces I like the thought of mixing anarchy and humour. I think that these two things go together always.” P. McCarthy as quoted in Alexander Tovborg, “Interview: Paul McCarthy,” ARoS, 2007


Akim MONET (b. 1968) Le Catacombe dei Cappuccini Archival Pigment Print on 100% cotton acid-free watercolor paper Image size: 36 x 23 7/8 in (91,44 x 60,62 cm) Paper size: 40 x 26 in (101,6 x 66,04) 2010 Ed. 7+3AP Signed and numbered in pencil


22 Times Trump Told America the Coronavirus Would Go Away “It goes away, and it goes away quickly. The key is, we want it to go away without a lot of death,” Trump said in July, after more than 147,000 Americans had died of Covid-19

nue. It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away.

February 10th — Death Count: 0 You know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. February 26th We’re fortunate so far. And we think it’s going to remain that way. China is working very, very hard. I have spoken to President Xi, and they’re working very hard. And if you know anything about him, I think he’ll be in pretty good shape.… They’re getting it more and more under control.… So I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away. February 27th You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done. February 28th If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized. But we have done an incredible job. We’re going to conti-

March 6th — Death Count: 15 I don’t think people are panicking. I said last night — we did an interview on Fox last night, a town hall. I think it was very good. And I said, “Calm. You have to be calm.” It’ll go away. March 10th — Death Count: 30 We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away. March 12th — Death Count: 41 It’s going to go away. It’s going to go way. March 30th — Death Count: 4,105 It is going away, and it will go away. And we’re going to have a great victory. April 1st — Death Count: 6,465 It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.… This is going to be gone. It’ll be gone. Hopefully gone for a long time. April 3rd — Death Count: 8,960 Trump: It is going to go away. It is going away.


Q: But, Mr. President, you said it was going to go away in April.… You said, “When it warmed up in April…” Trump: I said it’s going away, and it is going away. April 7th — Death Count: 15,755 Q: You were saying things like, “I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away within a couple of days.” Trump: Which I’m right about. It did go — it will go away. April 28th — Death Count: 60,405 Q: Back in late February, you predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million? Trump: Well, it will go down to zero, ultimately.… A lot of movement and a lot of progress has been made in a vaccine. But I think what happens is it’s going to go away. This is going to go away. May 6th — Death Count: 76,307 This virus is going to disappear. It’s a question of when. May 8th — Death Count: 80,197 I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests. This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and it’s — we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time. May 15th — Death Count: 91,149 We think we’re going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future. And if we do, we’re going to really be a big step ahead. And if we don’t, we’re going to

be like so many other cases, where you had a problem come in, it’ll go away — at some point, it’ll go away. June 16th — Death Count: 121,792 I always say, even without it, it goes away. But if we had the vaccine — and we will — if we had therapeutic, or cure — one thing sort of blends into the other — it will be a fantastic day. July 19th — Death Count: 143,758 I’ll be right eventually. You know, I said, “It’s going to disappear.” I’ll say it again. And I’ll be right. July 21st — Death Count: 145,486 Well, the virus will disappear. It will disappear. July 23rd — Death Count: 147,915 It goes away, and it goes away quickly. The key is, we want it to go away without a lot of death, without a lot of problems. August 8th — Death Count: 165,545 And we’re getting them [new jobs] even in a pandemic — which is disappearing; it’s going to disappear. August 17th — Death Count: 174,215 And the China Plague will fade. August 24th — Death Count: 181,074 And the pandemic goes away. August 31st — Death Count: 187,736 And we use the word “herd.” Once you get to a certain number, it’s going to go away.


Akim MONET(b. 1968) 20200424 Harassed Nurses (La farandole des trous du cul) UV cured ink on 1/8-inch brushed aluminum Dibond 3/4-inch wall bracket 12 x 12 in. (30,48 x 30,48 cm) 2020 Ed. 5+2AP Signed and numbered on the reverse


Akim Monet Samuel Asseo it’s the farandole of assholes, that turns, that turns.... Samuel Asseo Akim, in my mind a farandole is a joyful dance. In this case I see rather assholes walking in step. From there to say that it is a goose’s step, there is only one step. Akim Monet It’s an expression that oozes with irony; for us a crisis of morality, and for these assholes, a farandole of idolatries, danced around a fountain of pseudo-civil liberties, of which the gush peddles the stained sweat of the participants, all to the rhythm of the drum beat of the narcissistic pervert asshole-in-chief. All taken together: the farandole of assholes! Akim Monet This farandole is actually a dance of death. Samuel Asseo Akim, your description of the farandole of assholes is so realistic that I felt the stench that emerges... www.lafarandoledestrousducul.com


As California went into lockdown and our world moved from physical to digital for several months, Facebook became for me an interesting barometer of my friend’s thoughts, but also a reflection of a wider conversation. I was horrified! Not only did people post articles that addressed the bleak reality of a deeply divided county, of which the different parts no longer heard each other, let alone spoke the same language, but many whom I know personally, or who are only one-person-away from me, started to hurl insults at whomever thought differently.... Although I mostly refrained from engaging in digital conversations with those I don’t agree with -having quickly recognized that it takes more than one to dialogue, I coined a brutally vulgar hashtag, somewhat tinged with Groszian humor, to express my thoughts about the posts that displayed behavior I found particularly disturbing: #lafarandoledestrousducul I used this hashtag eliciting smiles, thumbs-ups, and even anger at times, and soon discovered that there is a ‘search’ function on Facebook that allows to find all instances in which the hashtag appears. Little did I know until then that I had ‘collected’ close to two-dozen posts that fit my notion of “the assholes’ dance” where propaganda, racism and death were out in full force.

20200503 Morons Are Governing, 2020

20200428 Hand sanitizer, 2020

20200506 Arbeit macht frei, 2020

20200422 Sacrifice the weak, 2020


Sterling RUBY (b. 1972) Vampire 97 Fabric and fiber fill 79 1/2 x 34 1/4 x 5 1/2 in (201.9 x 87 x 14 cm) 2013 Signed, titled and dated 2013 on a label affixed to the reverse


I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, Has broken nature’s social union, An’ justifies that ill opinion, Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal! From Robert Burns’ 1875 poem “To a Mouse”


A full fact sheet for each work is available for download on www.popcorngalleryla.com


CATALOGUE DESIGN Anne-Marie Visconti Claudio Fortugno Akim Monet 2020 © Akim Monet Fine Arts, LLC


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OF MICE AND MEN George Grosz and the 2020 election  

I am delighted to present “Of mice and men,” the sequel to an exhibition I mounted in Berlin four years ago entitled “Der Kandidat: George G...

OF MICE AND MEN George Grosz and the 2020 election  

I am delighted to present “Of mice and men,” the sequel to an exhibition I mounted in Berlin four years ago entitled “Der Kandidat: George G...

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