The Onlookers (Die Zuschauer)

Accession Number

The Onlookers (Die Zuschauer)

George Grosz

Artist Nationality
German (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
ink on wove paper

12 ¾ in x 8 ¼ in (32.38 cm x 20.96 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the Ernst Pulgram and Frances McSparran Collection

Label copy
George Grosz
Germany, 1893–1959
The Onlookers (Die Zuschauer)
Ink on paper
Gift of the Ernst Pulgram and Frances McSparran Collection, 2007/2.120
George Grosz was another artist deeply affected by the urban environment. For him, the city of Berlin was a place of spectatorship, where one both watched and was watched by others. Grosz portrays city dwellers in often cramped and physically close proximity to one another, yet the figures remain socially and psychologically isolated and alone.
The five men of The Onlookers capture these aspects of Grosz’s city. The men share a physical space, and their bodies even overlap one another in Grosz’s drawing as they presumably all “look on” a shared event. Yet they emanate a profound sense of alienation from one another, as none actually look in the same direction. In addition, the central figure looks out at us, the viewers, and implicates us as fellow onlookers who are also being looked at.

Subject matter
5 men sit on what appear to be benches, in various states of looking at their environs.

Physical Description
5 men sitting, in various states of watching. 1 man in first "row," in hat, facing left with arms crossed. In 2nd row, three men - (l) head in hands, legs crossed; (c) man in suit and hat, looking at viewer, hand in groin; (r) slumped figure in hat and suit, spectacles, covers groin, looks at ground. 1 man in last row, in hat, looks to the left.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
line drawing

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

groups of people

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M01 (Joan and Robert Tisch Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art)