1 Jun 2011

Otto Dix at the Institute of Foreign Affairs Gallery, Berlin

There is an interesting exhibition of the works of Otto Dix, the fascinating German artist who worked in both Expressionism and Dada at the Institute of Foreign Affairs Gallery in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition Otto Dix : Social Criticism Prints 1920-1924, 'Der Kreig (war) Etching Set 1924 runs until 7th August.

Otto Dix, etching, circa 1920
'With more than 600 drawings from the years 1914 to 1918 were done at various theatre's of war in Belgium, France and Russia, in the course of his military service. These protocols of war, created on the spot and of high artistic value, together with his own memories of the horrors of World War I, also formed the basis of a later grandiose serial work entitled "The War", published in 1924 by Karl Nierendorf in Berlin.

The cycle, consisting of fifty separate drawings and often compared to Goya's 'Desastres de la Guerra', (Disasters of War) does not only give an authentic and horrifying portrayal of the terrible trench fighting that took place in the great battles of this first world war-it also unmasks the 'moloch' of war for what it truly is. This series of etchings, which ranks particularly highly among the main works of Dix's oeuvre, forms the center of attention of this exhibition. 

Otto Dix, etching, c.1920
Dix never imagined that he could change people, i.e. humanity as such, by means of his works. But for these works, paintings and prints against war, he drew the rage and the hate, up to and including defamation, of the Nazi regime, which, after coming to power in 1933, removed him from his chair, as one of the first Academy professors to suffer this, and forbade him to exhibit.

The truth was important for Dix, also in his focus upon marginalized social groups of the postwar era, such as war veterans who had lost limbs, etc. and prostitutes; the collection included in this exhibition shows characteristic examples of such unfortunates. This inexorable drive to show the truth was already a source of agitation and protest among his contemporaries before the Nazis were in power. 

'I will either be famous or infamous', he once said as a young man. He has become both.'


Anonymous said...

Bonjour David, ce que crie Otto Dix est hélas toujours d'une grande actualité,cela me rappelle mais dans un toute autre genre l'esprit d'André Masson marqué aussi par la guerre,et (merci David):à bientôt:thibault

David said...

Bonjour Thige, on pourrait nommer tant de gens qui ont répondu après la Première Guerre mondiale et de la Seconde Guerre mondiale; Klee, Ernst, Fautrier, Wols, pour ne citer que quelques-uns ont tous répondu de différentes manières, ayant vécu des expériences différentes, mais nous réagir différemment maintenant, avec notre sensibilité postmoderne? ...regards Dave