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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death

September 30 through November 26, 2017

Hans Grohs (German, 1892–1981) was an extremely prolific artist. One thread linking many of the German Expressionist and poet’s works is his interest in examining death. This exhibition highlights prints from two bodies of work exploring this theme: A Dance of Death (Ein Totentanz), 1917–1919 and The Alphabet with Death (Das ABC Mit Dem Tod), 1924. Grohs, a man of deep and abiding faith, had a close relationship with death; first, he lived through two world wars and survived cruel Nazi atrocities, and second, Grohs tragically lost his first wife to childbirth after only two years of marriage.

In these woodcuts, Grohs evokes the medieval subject of “The Dance of Death” while using them as a way to express his grief. In both bodies of work he depicts the fragility of life and inevitable death. However, the ABC of Death also metaphorically investigates a way forward. For Grohs, these masterpieces ultimately functioned as a meditative prayer.

Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.

Hans Grohs, "Death and the Fisherman", 1918, from the series, "The Small Dance of Death (Kleiner Totentanz)", woodcut on paper, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2007.1.1.3