Otto DixGerman, 1891–1969
Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011
Painter, printmaker, watercolorist. Known especially for his caustic portraits of postwar German society. Studied in Dresden from 1910 to 1914, where he encountered art of the Brücke and began painting in a colorful, emotionally exaggerated and gestural style. Profoundly influenced by writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, which he carried into war as an enthusiastic volunteer in 1914. Saw action as an artillery gunner; wounded multiple times and decorated with Iron Cross, Second Class. Served entire war, through 1918; emerged with scathing view of mankind. Settled in Dresden in 1919, where he made contact with socialist Expressionist groups; was also briefly involved with Dada, exhibiting works at First International Dada Fair in 1920. Created several monumental works chronicling the brutality of war, including a portfolio of fifty shockingly graphic etchings, The War (published 1924). Also focused on postwar decadence, depicting war profiteers, prostitutes, crippled veterans, and sexual violence in an increasingly verist style.
Was tutored in printmaking by Conrad Felixmüller in Dresden in 1919/20, and eventually made some 350 prints, typically exploiting the starkness of black and white. Approximately one-third were created during his sharpest years between 1919 and 1924; others mostly date from the 1930s to the 1960s, when his outlook had mellowed somewhat.
Stripped of honors and teaching position in 1933 by Nazis, who also seized 260 works from public collections, some of which were destroyed.
Hartley, Keith. Otto Dix, 1891–1969. Exh. cat. London: Tate, 1992.
Karsch, Florian, ed. Otto Dix: Das graphische Werk. Hannover: Fackelträger-Verlag Schmidt-Küster, 1970.
Mülhaupt, Freya. Otto Dix: Das graphische Werk. Exh. cat. Berlin: Berlinische Galerie, 1999.
Peters, Olaf, ed. Otto Dix. Exh. cat. New York: Neue Galerie, 2010.