Otto Dix, born in 1891 in Untermhaus, Germany, was one of the most prominent artists to represent the actions of Germany’s Weimar Republic in his art (also known to be an artist in the Neue Sachlichkeit, or the New Objectivity Movement). Specifically, he is known to have depicted the brutality of war via incredibly honest and realistic works.
Dix, the son of a seamstress with an interest in poetry, was exposed to art from an early age. His mother and an artist cousin oftentimes encouraged his interests in painting and drawing. Later, he served an internship with painter Carl Senff and then entered Academy of Applied Arts in Dresden, Germany. Shortly after leaving school, World War I began and Dix enthusiastically enlisted. He served several years as a German soldier and reported that what he witnessed had a great impact on his life and art, specifically causing nightmares that he suffered throughout the rest of his life. Many of the scenes he drew or painted originated in these nightmares. Some such scenes are included in his series of etchings and paintings Der Krieg published in 1924. The two prints below are from this series.
Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas, 1924
Wounded Soldier, 1924
Dix is particularly interesting to me because of the historical importance of his works. The Weimar Republic, and its activities, represents an undeniably influential and interesting part of the world’s history. His drawings and paintings are more realistic and brutal than those of his contemporaries. They truly reflect the dark and ominous times that Dix lived through, including portrayals of actual battle as well as the aftermath of war and the emotions of people who also lived through war. His scenes convey the sadness and loss felt by German civilians after the end of World War I in a unique and effective way. He was more critical of German daily life than most artists of his time, including portrayals of war victims missing limbs, prostitution, and death.
Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia Von Harden, 1926
Self- Portrait, 1926
Otto Dix died in 1969 in Dresden after suffering a stroke. He is acknowledged today as one of Germany's most influential artists, as well as people in general, and his work is still widely admired.
- Conzelmann, O., Otto Dix (Hannover: Fackelträger-Verlag, 1959)
- Karcher, Eva (1988). Otto Dix 1891-1969: His Life and Works. Cologne: Benedikt Taschen.
- Wikipedia: Otto Dix