Otto Dix. The Nun. 1914

Otto Dix

The Nun


Oil on cardboard
27 5/8 x 20 5/8" (70.2 x 52.4 cm)
Gift of Gertrude W. Dennis
Object number
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Otto Dix has 94 works online.
There are 2,312 paintings online.

In a painting he later described as "completely characteristic" of his work before World War I, Otto Dix envisions a nun's internal struggle between her hope for eventual heavenly rewards and her desire for immediate worldly pleasures. The jarring, acidic colors on the nun's face and hands contrast sharply with the anguish and torment conveyed by her downcast eyes and furrowed brow. Dix matches the deep lines and fractured planes of her face to the soaring vaults of the Gothic cathedral in which she appears. Within this holy space, she is torn by competing desires. On the left, a radiating, vulva-shaped form pushes aside the agonized and bloody Jesus. Opposite, a nude cradles her own glowing red stomach, alluding to motherhood, another earthly experience the nun must renounce for her faith.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Location unknown as of 1959
(Irwin Lefcourt) Art Fair Galleries, New York. By November 1963
Gertrude W. and Seth Dennis, Westport, Connecticut. [By 1981] By 1988
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Gertrude W. Dennis, 1988

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