Born in the German factory town of Elberfeld in 1894, Carl Grossberg studied architecture at Aachen and Darmstadt until his education ended abruptly when he was drafted into World War I in 1915. After the war, he studied painting with Lyonel Feininger at the Bauhaus and worked as a successful painter and interior designer.
Grossberg became a prominent painter associated with the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement, primarily known for his urban and industrial portraits. The New Objectivity emerged as a style in Germany during the 1920s that challenged Expressionism, refocusing on reality and the objective world as opposed to the more abstract and romantic notions of Expressionism. Engaged in realism, Grossberg painted urban cityscapes, factories, and industrial scenes with the absence of human figures while utilizing garish colors and distorted space and perspective.
Grossberg had his first solo exhibition in Stuttgart, the capital and largest city of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, followed by another exhibition at the Galerie Nierendorf in Berlin, among several others in Cologne and Düsseldorf. One of his most successful shows came in 1929 when he was included in the exhibition “Neue Sachlichkeit” presented by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
In 1933 he began to receive many industrial commissions and started working on a series of paintings he titled the “Industrial Plan,” which portrayed Germany’s most significant industries and industrial plants. Grossberg was drafted again in 1939 and sent as an officer to the Polish front being transferred to France. He was killed a year later in an automobile accident in the Compiègne, a commune in northern France.