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A Little Yes and a Big No

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A Little Yes and a Big No is the 1946 autobiography of German artist George Grosz. The first edition was published by Dial Press in New York City, and was translated by Lola Sachs Dorin. In 1998, the University of California Press published a 1955 translation of Grosz's text by Nora Hodges, entitled George Grosz: An Autobiography. The 1998 edition includes the chapter "Russ A Little Yes and a Big No is the 1946 autobiography of German artist George Grosz. The first edition was published by Dial Press in New York City, and was translated by Lola Sachs Dorin. In 1998, the University of California Press published a 1955 translation of Grosz's text by Nora Hodges, entitled George Grosz: An Autobiography. The 1998 edition includes the chapter "Russia in 1922" which did not appear in the 1946 edition. In this chapter, Grosz recounts his five-month tour of Soviet Russia's most famine-stricken areas. Barbara McCloskey writes in the foreword to the 1998 edition: "Grosz rejects any glimmer of the revolutionary idealism that we might have expected from a young, radicalized artist. Gloom and suspicion, not optimism and hope, define his vision of the new Soviet regime."


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A Little Yes and a Big No is the 1946 autobiography of German artist George Grosz. The first edition was published by Dial Press in New York City, and was translated by Lola Sachs Dorin. In 1998, the University of California Press published a 1955 translation of Grosz's text by Nora Hodges, entitled George Grosz: An Autobiography. The 1998 edition includes the chapter "Russ A Little Yes and a Big No is the 1946 autobiography of German artist George Grosz. The first edition was published by Dial Press in New York City, and was translated by Lola Sachs Dorin. In 1998, the University of California Press published a 1955 translation of Grosz's text by Nora Hodges, entitled George Grosz: An Autobiography. The 1998 edition includes the chapter "Russia in 1922" which did not appear in the 1946 edition. In this chapter, Grosz recounts his five-month tour of Soviet Russia's most famine-stricken areas. Barbara McCloskey writes in the foreword to the 1998 edition: "Grosz rejects any glimmer of the revolutionary idealism that we might have expected from a young, radicalized artist. Gloom and suspicion, not optimism and hope, define his vision of the new Soviet regime."

30 review for A Little Yes and a Big No

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    This is a beautifully written autobiography. I felt that I was reading the words of a man, whom I would have enjoyed meeting. Grosz wrote in a style which was as approachable as his perceptive drawings and paintings, which do much to portray the awkwardness of the times that he lived through in Germany before and during the rise of the Nazis. Grosz visited the USSR shortly after the Russian Revolution. His account of this visit to a 'new world' is far more realistic than many written by other west This is a beautifully written autobiography. I felt that I was reading the words of a man, whom I would have enjoyed meeting. Grosz wrote in a style which was as approachable as his perceptive drawings and paintings, which do much to portray the awkwardness of the times that he lived through in Germany before and during the rise of the Nazis. Grosz visited the USSR shortly after the Russian Revolution. His account of this visit to a 'new world' is far more realistic than many written by other western intellectual visitors, mostly starry-eyed, to the country in those days. This book describes Grosz's difficulty in becoming an artist, and then the exciting world in which he mixed in the years before Adolf Hitler came to power. Apart from much name-dropping, some of which is essential to the story, this is well-worth reading, especially if you are innterested in the tumultuous years between WW1 and the start of the Third Reich.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sick Márgaro

    Excelentes memorias de un pintor, sus encuentroa con otros artistas como Brecht o Mann, sus impresiones sobre la vida, su sarcasmo contra la desilusión y cómo quedó emparedado entre las paredes del autoritarismo y del mercado; su puntual huída del sartén del nazismo para caer en las brazas del capitalismo. "Somos todos tan ilustrados que hemos dejado la fantasía en manos de los geopolíticos y los tecnócratas." Excelentes memorias de un pintor, sus encuentroa con otros artistas como Brecht o Mann, sus impresiones sobre la vida, su sarcasmo contra la desilusión y cómo quedó emparedado entre las paredes del autoritarismo y del mercado; su puntual huída del sartén del nazismo para caer en las brazas del capitalismo. "Somos todos tan ilustrados que hemos dejado la fantasía en manos de los geopolíticos y los tecnócratas."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Javier Iglesias

    No sé si os ocurre a vosotros, probablemente me equivoco, pero me da la impresión de que casi siempre es mucho más divertido, excitante e incluso enriquecedor leer memorias y autobiografías de pintores -u otros artistas- que de escritores. Quizá no tanto porque los pintores crean tener menos ego que los escritores -que en ese pecado suelen ir a la par o incluso los superan-, como porque al estar los primeros, de ordinario, menos acostumbrados a la palabra escrita que los segundos, esta, digamos, No sé si os ocurre a vosotros, probablemente me equivoco, pero me da la impresión de que casi siempre es mucho más divertido, excitante e incluso enriquecedor leer memorias y autobiografías de pintores -u otros artistas- que de escritores. Quizá no tanto porque los pintores crean tener menos ego que los escritores -que en ese pecado suelen ir a la par o incluso los superan-, como porque al estar los primeros, de ordinario, menos acostumbrados a la palabra escrita que los segundos, esta, digamos, falta de oficio en el para ellos nuevo vehículo de expresión, los saca un poco de foco, así que van por faena: van a hablar de lo suyo, que es hablar de sí mismos, mientras que los escritores pocas palabras sueltan que no empiecen y acaben en ellos, tras dar la vuelta completa a su micromundo. Antes de poder asistir a nada verdaderamente interesante tienes primero que pagar el peaje de una órbita completa a su yoísmo. A estas memorias de Grosz le sobran un montón de páginas, porque Grosz no tiene el instinto escritor de la elipsis, no tiene filtro, pero a cambio es lo justo sincero, pagado de sí mismo pero a la vez honesto como para no convertir el viaje en una pesadilla de egolatía y auntoindulgencia. Perfecto testimonio de la Alemania herida y negra, surgida de la vergüenza de Versailles, termina cuando Grosz emigra a América, con la llegada de Hitler al poder en Alemania. Grosz, judío, artista incómodo y satírico, "degenerado" para los nazis, salvó el culo por los pelos y vivió en América hasta 1959. El libro se publicó en 1946. Su autor tiene el buen gusto de ahorrarnos cualquier página sobre su vida más allá del inicio de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, sabieno los años de guadaña que se ciernen sobre el mundo, Europa, y sobre todo Alemania. Supongo que en su fuero interno sabe que describir ni que fuese un agradable paseo o un frugal desayuno americanos, sería echar sal sobre las fosas del Holocausto.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jose

    This book is an autobiography by German painter and illustrator George Grosz. Grosz was an artist normally associated with the German Expressionist movement in the arts. Expressionism grew from the ashes of the First World War when pretty pictures and art for art's sake became an ineffectual way to convey the horror that Europe had seen and the general spirit of the times. Expressionism was defined more by an attitude than by a particular style of painting -like Impressionism or Cubism for examp This book is an autobiography by German painter and illustrator George Grosz. Grosz was an artist normally associated with the German Expressionist movement in the arts. Expressionism grew from the ashes of the First World War when pretty pictures and art for art's sake became an ineffectual way to convey the horror that Europe had seen and the general spirit of the times. Expressionism was defined more by an attitude than by a particular style of painting -like Impressionism or Cubism for example- and it was more closely related to literature than the visual arts. Several artists groups sprung around this new way of painting. In Germany alone we can name a few : "Der Blaue Reiter" "Die Brücke" and "Neue Sachlihkeit" among others. Broadly speaking, these groups focused on the portrayal of the rough edges of humanity. They did indeed favor human subjects and city life over landscapes. Expressionism conveyed the troubled zeitgeist with jagged lines, a graphic style, deformed anatomies, rough hewn woodblock printing, arbitrary color, etc... but its followers varied greatly in style. From Nolde, to Otto Dix, Kirhner or Kathe Kolwitz the variety of approach is simply to broad to be able to reduce it to a formula. George Grosz was educated at the Dresden Art Academy within the hallowed traditions of the academic pursuit of excellence. But academia had become stiffled and dry . The mere mention of Van Gogh could send a master into convulsions. With he world in the midst of upheaval and strong winds of art innovation coming from France, the dismantling of the true and tried had begun. It's worth mentioning the biggest turmoil would come from the political hurricanes that engulfed the Weimar Republic, a period fascinating in that so much of it resembles our own present time. The polarization between leftists utopias and right-wind authoritarianism, the search for demagogues that would lead the masses by telling them what they wanted to hear, the nativist superstitions pitted against internationalist allegiances, the ineffectual passivity of governments embedded with the establishment, etc.. Grosz and many fellow students left for Berlin the minute they were done squeezing meaningful stimulus out of Academia. Aspiring artists followed a standard path of job searches and commission hunting. His first job doing illustrations for magazines lets him make a modest income and attain even a certain degree of independence and fame. The war breaks and he gets injured but a first strike of luck rescues him from further fighting. His vision darkens a great deal. His paintings are a swarm of distorted figures and obvious symbolism. Cardinals, generals and pig-like tycoons mingle with soldiers and prostitutes in a frantic dance. From this time are pieces like "Ecce Homo" and "Pillars of Society". For all purposes he is part of the intelligentsia, the argumentative, ever-punctilious elite that spends its time in cafes discussing the importance of this or that political minutia while the big majority of the country is just worrying about their bread and ever escalating inflation. Kind of like today. One of the many interesting aspects of this book is that Grosz often digresses and gives ample time to commiserate and describe many of the acquaintances -often tragic figures- who he often admires for a while until their idealism is trampled by the dire reality. Grosz himself soon subscribes loosely to left leaning ideologies, animated by a sense of justice. But he is no dummy or starry eyed idealist. He knows that he needs to "butter up" the people that will actually buy his art. He is not dogmatic or shrill. On the contrary, there is a very Germanic candid acceptance without the bitterness. A strange boat trip to the Soviet Union in the early 1920's will shove away any illusions about a Moscow inspired communist utopia. Like many, he is soon disappointed by the shape that politics takes in all directions. By the time Hitler rears his head , he has already followed his gut- actually, he has an odd dream that explicitly invites him to America- and leaves Germany with his family. He would read about the Reichstag's burning already safely ensconced in New York. This segment of the book about him becoming an immigrant is truly what had me glued to the book which had been ho-hum till then, just a who is who of German cultural elites. In a few words, George Grosz had to reinvent himself at the ripe age of 40, he might have been famous in Germany, but the country as he knew it was gone. In America, he starts with two simple rules , try to blend in and like everything ...even if you don't. Along with this comes loosening European snobbishness about "culture", a useless superiority that many of his compatriots cling on to. Adopt the American way of art with its bright and sugary colors but also meticulous and likeable. This is the Golden Age of American illustration after all: Norman Rockwell, Dana Gibson, Dean Cornwell and many others. George Grosz works hard at catching up and , despite his many struggles -and there were a few- he perseveres. It is astounding how many doors he knocked on, from magazines to Hollywood, keeping an art school afloat all along. In a way, Grosz had to shed a whole history and create a new one almost from scratch. The two chapters "New York in June" and "Becoming American" are pivotal. Clearly Grosz becomes a bit less chatty at this point and the writing fizzles after that. He never recovered the heights of his early career even though he learned to enjoy art even more as an American. In conclusion, George Grosz was not a writer. Part of the joy of this book are the many ink illustrations dispersed through the text. But as with many artists writings, one can get great insights into the times, personalities, dilemmas, contradictions at struggles that hide behind a museum piece. Highly recommended for art history lovers but not so much for those looking for a thrill or great writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adolfo

    Una decepción ha sido leer esta biografía de Grosz. Pensar que siempre y ,con mi padre, admiramos y admirábamos la cualidad de ser un gran representante de su época, la época de entre guerras de Alemania. Sus trabajos pictóricos no tienen nada que ver con sus pensamientos, empezando por el desprecio de las "masas" o pueblo y su amor por el dinero me producen vomitos!!! Al leer esta biografía me decepciono mucho leer que el motivo de este artista, en sus trabajos, era solo ganar dinero y no traer Una decepción ha sido leer esta biografía de Grosz. Pensar que siempre y ,con mi padre, admiramos y admirábamos la cualidad de ser un gran representante de su época, la época de entre guerras de Alemania. Sus trabajos pictóricos no tienen nada que ver con sus pensamientos, empezando por el desprecio de las "masas" o pueblo y su amor por el dinero me producen vomitos!!! Al leer esta biografía me decepciono mucho leer que el motivo de este artista, en sus trabajos, era solo ganar dinero y no traer a la luz la situación de una época. por supuesto el artista tiene que recibir una buena recompensa por su trabajo pero el dinero puede ser solo el fin de su trabajo. Además en la biografia no habla mucho de su arte, el porque hizo lo que hizo, sino más bien habla de las personas a quién conoció o de cosas un poco superficiales. Al final de cuentas no encuentro un libro muy logrado. Este libro parece mas bien den artista resentido no solo con su época sino que también con e el mundo artistico.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

    George Grosz was the quintessential artist of Berlin in the 20s, skewering everyone and everything around him, from the plutocrats driving the country to ruin to the beggars scraping for survival on the street. But sadly, the fire that made him such a strong artist had been dampened by the time he wrote this book. His new life in America was defined by the compromises he had to make to pay the bills and provide for his family, and you can feel his sense of defeat. The chapters on the German revo George Grosz was the quintessential artist of Berlin in the 20s, skewering everyone and everything around him, from the plutocrats driving the country to ruin to the beggars scraping for survival on the street. But sadly, the fire that made him such a strong artist had been dampened by the time he wrote this book. His new life in America was defined by the compromises he had to make to pay the bills and provide for his family, and you can feel his sense of defeat. The chapters on the German revolution of 1918 and his involvement with Dada in the 20s leaves you wishing you could have heard him before his anger had metastasized into bitterness.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    This book gives a good window onto the life and philosophy of an artist who, by his own reckoning, had a bit of a misanthropic streak. The work starts with Grosz's childhood in Pomerania, giving the reader an idyllic view onto an era in which war in Germany was considered a relic of the past; all kids knew about war in this time came from playing with their paper and dye-cast metal toys. There's some good stuff in the early sections dealing with a youth spent in Biedermeier-style coziness, along This book gives a good window onto the life and philosophy of an artist who, by his own reckoning, had a bit of a misanthropic streak. The work starts with Grosz's childhood in Pomerania, giving the reader an idyllic view onto an era in which war in Germany was considered a relic of the past; all kids knew about war in this time came from playing with their paper and dye-cast metal toys. There's some good stuff in the early sections dealing with a youth spent in Biedermeier-style coziness, along with an Ur-Szene in which Grosz sees his friend's relative naked through her bedroom window and he develops his lifelong obsession with the female form. Things move swiftly from there to art school, after which Grosz breezes over his military service within the space of a chapter or two. I can't say that I blame him for not dwelling on his memories of the trenches. He didn't spend as much time there as fellow artist-veterans such as Otto Dix, but from what little he does divulge in the work, his time in war was a nightmare, which helped shape his political beliefs and the direction his artwork took in the coming years. From there, Grosz moves on to reminiscing about his postwar years in Germany, the heady days of the Weimar Republic where Berlin was stacked to the rafters with colorful characters like astral mediums, transvestite cabaret artists, and closeted homosexual Nazis. For anyone who wants to get a bit of a history lesson from the horse's mouth, there are some gems to be found in here. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how lavishly the book is packed with sketches, marginalia, drawings, charcoal works, and paintings by Grosz . There are also a handful of photos thrown in for good measure. The book ends on something of an upbeat note, with Grosz emigrating to America and forsaking what he considered the dour, claustrophobic aesthetic of his early years and embracing a style of painting that was much more in keeping with his newfound lust for life in his adopted homeland. This late happiness is of course tempered by the word that Grosz gets from the handful of Germans he knew who were lucky enough to escape Hitler's reign of terror, who describe what happened to those who waited around for the Nazis to make good on their threats. Personal reminiscences are interspersed with Grosz's ideas about art, which are some of the most unpretentious I've encountered in the theoretical realm. Put simply, Grosz's main influence was the rough-hewn work of tabloid and adventure stories he consumed as a child, pulpy Karl May tales and lurid crime works meant to entertain the masses. His main goal with his own art was to keep a roof over his head and some food in his belly, and he makes no bones about how, beneath the artifice he kept up in cafe society circles, he was himself a bit of a prole at heart. Having had more than my fill of postmodern theory/con artistry by the likes of Warhol et. al., I found Grosz's candor refreshing. Recommended, for fans of art and history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    I really enjoyed reading this autobiography alongside the biographical perspective of Schneede's George Grosz: Life and Work, which, along with a large number of reproductions of the artist's work, contained further historical timelines and additional pictorial history of his contemporaries and times in Germany. Grosz tended to romanticized people and events. Though chronological, this autobiography is not a mere recitation of events A to B. The author focuses on specific moments, often losing si I really enjoyed reading this autobiography alongside the biographical perspective of Schneede's George Grosz: Life and Work, which, along with a large number of reproductions of the artist's work, contained further historical timelines and additional pictorial history of his contemporaries and times in Germany. Grosz tended to romanticized people and events. Though chronological, this autobiography is not a mere recitation of events A to B. The author focuses on specific moments, often losing sight of particulars and quotidian happenings. There is, instead, a rich quilt of events that shaped the person he was.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Really enjoyed reading this, not just for the biographical info on Grosz, but also for insights into the Weimar Republic, the New York art scene of the period, and late-19th & early 20th century Germany. Much more than just art history here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    K Kriesel

    As the book went on, it seemed as though Grosz lost interest in writing. His style became less vivacious and more rambling - however this does reflect the narrative he tells.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Wade

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gus Peret

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Zanetti

  14. 4 out of 5

    Teraberry

  15. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Hübner

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lanny

  17. 4 out of 5

    Agone Aldecoa

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Daniliszyn

  19. 5 out of 5

    Proun

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gren

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Tolman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Dwyer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Wiedel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alberto García Marcos

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liv

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maurice Burns

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer

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