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About this work

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

Otto Dix aggressively implies in this portfolio that sex is the force driving all men. In Apotheose (Apotheosis), fragmented body parts and leering faces orbit a grotesquely distorted prostitute, whose outsize genitalia mark the center of the composition. Dix believed in the utter incompatibility of men and women. He borrowed imagery conveying the epic conflict of the sexes from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, such as the juxtaposed moon and sun in Mann und Weib (Nächtliche Szene) (Man and woman [nocturnal scene]) and the cats slinking over moonlit roofs in Katzen (Cats). On the streets, meanwhile, traditional order—both moral and pictorial—breaks down. Die Prominenten (Konstellation) (The celebrities [constellation]) reveals Dix's skepticism toward exuberant promises of a better future: four ideologues share a single body, espousing a manifesto of love, fatherland, order, and Dada.

Although still indebted stylistically to the Expressionist techniques of distortion, the Futurist fracturing of picture planes, and the Cubist use of collage, Dix has already discovered the power of scathing social critique in these early woodcuts, which count as some of his first prints. He made woodcuts only briefly, between 1919 and 1920, and then gave up the medium entirely.

Otto Dix (German, 1891–1969)

Apotheosis (Apotheose) from the portfolio Nine Woodcuts (Neun Holzschnitte)

Date:
1919 (published 1922)
Medium:
Woodcut
Dimensions:
composition (irreg.): 11 x 7 3/4" (28 x 19.7 cm); sheet: 17 1/16 x 13 15/16" (43.4 x 35.4 cm)
Paper:
Cream, smooth, wove.
Publisher:
Heinar Schilling, Dresdner Verlag, Dresden
Printer:
unknown
Edition:
30; plus a few proofs printed by the artist; and an unknown number in the periodical Menschen, vol. VIII, no. 62/65 (Nov 1919)
Credit Line:
Given anonymously
Copyright:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Reference:
Karsch 30 b. Rifkind 473 8. Söhn 26928-8.
MoMA Number:
516.1951
Themes:
City Life, Nude, Sex
Techniques:
Woodcut

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