|Hand To Hand Fighting, Charcoal, 1917|
During his expressionist phase, Dix experimented with orphic cubism as shown in the images above and below. In 1917, Dix was consumed by the war, and was inspired to draw the circle of his life as a function of the gruesome tragedies he participated in. The image on the left depicts an unsurvivable, bloody battle among soldiers that seemingly all look alike. The image is full of life, with free flowing marks made throughout.
As an outcome of the drawing's busy and impactful effect, viewers are not inclined to search for details. Rather, we see the soldiers as a sad conglomerate mess of limbs and faces. The beings roll into one another, as characteristic of the orphic cubism style. The bodies are abstracted into what Dix considers the chaotic image of war.
|Lover's Grave, Charcoal, 1917|
As such, the circle of life is complete, and Dix effectively moves his viewers.
|Wounded Soldier, 1924|
Above, we have Dix's Wounded Soldier, a remarkably horrifying capture of a soldier suffering a recent traumatic attack on his chest. It's difficult to look away from his narrowed, terrified gaze. Dix suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and its effects gave rise to drawings such as these. He was unafraid to expose the harsh realities soldiers felt in the trenches. These were the real faces of the beaten soldiers. These were the realities. This is what moved people.
|Portrait of a Prisoner, 1946|
The stunning blue sky captures the prospect of freedom, and how it is obscured by the enslaving fences. He is a lost man, trapped man. The halo of branches that circulate the prisoner's head resemble a "crown of thorns," foreshadowing a religious trend in his artwork during his post-war work.
|GeiBelung II, 1948|
|Frauenkopf II, 1949|
Otto Dix's later works demonstrate a common theme of distraught hollowness. Hollowness in the sense of a forgotten identity due to the traumas of the outside world. Whether it be a foolish act out of no reasonable thought at all, or a portrayal of a woman lost without her mind, only to live with a cavity filled with the same disasters found all around her.
The characters are lost, they are without cause, they are sad. I find the works of Otto Dix to be extremely inspirational. I love his style, and his powerful message that is apparent in every one of his works. It is no question who the artist was for any of these pieces, and for that, I admire him. He developed a style that was bold for his time.
Otto Dix died in Germany amidst his enticement with post war sufferings and trauma. He remains historically important as a German expressionist with no boundaries.
Karcher, Eva. Dix. New York: Crown, 1987. Print.
McGreevy, Linda F. The Life and Works of Otto Dix: German Critical Realist. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1981. Print.
"The Online Otto Dix Project." Otto Dix. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ottodix.org/>.
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