Otto Dix. Evening on the Wijtschaete Plain (November 1917) [Abend in der Wijtschaete-Ebene (November 1917)] from The War (Der Krieg). (1924)

Otto Dix Evening on the Wijtschaete Plain (November 1917) [Abend in der Wijtschaete-Ebene (November 1917)] from The War (Der Krieg) (1924)

  • Not on view

Appearing ten years after the conflict began, Otto Dix's monumental portfolio Der Krieg (The war) neither glorifies World War I nor heroizes its soldiers but shows, in fifty unrelentingly graphic images, the horrible realities experienced by someone who was there. Dix, an artillery gunner in the trenches at the Somme and on the Eastern Front, focused on the aftermath of battle: dead, dying, and shell-shocked soldiers, bombed-out landscapes, and graves.

Dix manipulated the etching and aquatint mediums to heighten the emotional and realistic effects of his meticulously rendered images of horror. He stopped out ghastly white bones and strips of no man's land, leaving brilliant white patches; multiple acid baths ate away at the images, mimicking decaying flesh.

Titles detailing precise places and dates confer an illusion of documentary authenticity. Dix did not transcribe his wartime sketchbooks; these nightmarish scenes are based on his memories of battle, on photographs (including many that had been censored during wartime), and on catacombs. For Dix, these prints were like an exorcism. Dix's publisher, Karl Nierendorf in Berlin, circulated the portfolio throughout Germany with a pacifist organization, Never Again War, though Dix himself doubted that his prints could have any bearing on future wars. Despite the intensive publicity, Nierendorf sold only one complete portfolio from the edition of seventy.

Publication excerpt from Heather Hess, German Expressionist Digital Archive Project, German Expressionism: Works from the Collection. 2011.
Medium
Etching and aquatint from a portfolio of fifty etching, aquatint and drypoints
Dimensions
plate: 9 5/8 x 11 5/8" (24.5 x 29.6 cm); sheet: 13 13/16 x 18 3/8" (35.1 x 46.6 cm)
Publisher
Karl Nierendorf, Berlin
Printer
Otto Felsing, Berlin
Edition
70
Credit
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Object number
159.1934.27
Copyright
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Portfolio
The War (Der Krieg)
Department
Drawings and Prints

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