An unused gas station in a bustling area of Berlin will be revived as the world's very first museum dedicated to German artist George Grosz (1893-1959).
With an old garage and a new extension, the former Shell building is being transformed into a museum where, from May 2022 onward, it will display works by the painter and caricaturist who was condemned as a "degenerate artist" by the Nazis and driven out of Berlin.
Funded by a private initiative, the museum is located in a rundown area of Berlin and minutes from the bars, cafes and shops around Nollendorfplatz.
"The museum at this location is also an offer to the city," Juerg Judin said. The gallery owner bought the old gas station a few years ago. He put the small annex next to it, transformed the petrol station with pine trees, bamboo and a carp pool.
"The museum is actually too small, Grosz would deserve more space," says Judin. As a fan of the artist, he bought his first lithograph by Grosz in Zurich while still a student.
Georg Gross, the son of an innkeeper and who was born and died in Berlin, altered the spelling of his name to George Grosz in 1916 with an English spelling of his German first name, in what was seen as a protest against World War I.
Grosz later established the expressionist art movement Dada in Berlin, together with John Heartfield (also renamed from Helmut Herzfeld) and his brother Wieland Herzfelde (Herzfeld).
Grosz's works became increasingly political, which also got him into a lot of trouble in Nazi Germany. Before the Nazis could arrest him, he emigrated to the United States in 1933. Only shortly before his death in 1956 did he return to Berlin.
One of his main works, the "Pillars of Society" ("Stützen der Gesellschaft") from 1926, is one of the highlights of the collection of the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) just a few hundred meters from the new Grosz museum.
"The museum doesn't have its own collection, but for the exhibitions, it can count on the artist's estate and private collections that are keen to contribute," says art historian Pay Matthis Karstens from one of the museum's teams of curators.
"Together we are planning two special exhibitions a year and want to start with the early work," Karstens says. "Then we'll show Gross before Grosz."
The workshop of the former petrol station will then be the museum entrance, and a cafe will be set up in the former cash register room where visitors can sit and discuss his works while looking out through large windows onto a carp pond.