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Artists Otto Dix Art Works
Otto Dix Photo

Otto Dix

German Painter and Printmaker

Movement: New Objectivity

Born: December 2, 1891 - Untermhaus, Germany

Died: July 25, 1969 - Singen, Germany

Otto Dix Timeline

Important Art by Otto Dix

The below artworks are the most important by Otto Dix - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Skat Players (Card-Playing War Cripples) (1920)
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Skat Players (Card-Playing War Cripples) (1920)

Artwork description & Analysis: Showing both his Dadaist and Cubist influences, Dix makes a clear social statement using his bold technique in this painting. The skat players are war veterans horribly disfigured and crippled by their service, yet they are still able to play cards. Skat was a card game favored by Krupps, the German manufacturers of weapons. Dix uses the repetition of the cards, the chair legs, and the stumped limbs of the men to build a composition that is disturbing in form as well as content.

Oil on canvas with photomontage and collage - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Portrait of the Lawyer Dr. Fritz Glaser (1921)
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Portrait of the Lawyer Dr. Fritz Glaser (1921)

Artwork description & Analysis: This picture of the lawyer Dr. Fritz Glaser is typical of Dix's portraiture from the early 1920s, in which he depicted his friends from the professional classes - doctors, lawyers and other notables who were also interested in the arts. Dr. Glaser assembled an extensive collection of art including works by artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Emil Nolde. Dix shows him in front of the snow-covered facade of a typically ornate Dresden building, which appears to have been shattered during the war. Typical of his inclination toward caricature, the artist emphasizes the prominent features in Glaser's face, in this case his Semitic nose. The picture is also typical of the contradictions in Dix's life and work - contradictions between the good relations he had with many of Dresden's bourgeoisie, and the icy, critical tone with which his art remembered them.

Oil on canvas - Pompidou Centre, Paris

Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926)
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Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926)

Artwork description & Analysis: As a character of her time just as the woman herself, this image of Sylvia von Harden became iconic of the era. This portrait is perhaps Dix's most recognized. It was even referenced in the 1972 film Cabaret, set in Weimar-era Berlin. It is said that Dix painted this portrait after seeing von Harden in the street and exclaiming, "I must paint you, I simply must! You represent an entire epoch." She was amused. "So you want to paint my lackluster eyes, my ornate ears, my long nose, my thin lips. You want to paint my short legs, my big feet -- things that can only frighten people and delight no one?" Dix claimed that she was a perfect image for a society that was less concerned about a woman's outward appearance than her psychological state.

Oil on canvas - Pompidou Centre, Paris

The War (1929-32)
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The War (1929-32)

Artwork description & Analysis: Dix was extremely affected by his war experiences and returned to them often for inspiration. The War shows men going into battle, it shows the aftermath of conflict, and it shows them returning from the field. Dix studied the Old Masters in both their subject matter and painting methods. This triptych is immediately reminiscent of grand history paintings as well as German Renaissance artist Matthias Gruenwald's Isenheim altarpiece (1506-15). Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ (1480) is evoked in the lower panel showing the dead soldiers. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, and the Bible also influenced Dix, thus associations of sacrifice and apocalypse with war imagery are common in his works.

Oil and tempera on wood - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden

Seven Deadly Sins (1933)
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Seven Deadly Sins (1933)

Artwork description & Analysis: In response to the Nazis' dismissing him from his teaching post at the Berlin Academy, Dix created this surreal satire on German politics. The figure of Sloth, depicted in the center, is a skeleton whose outstretched arms and scythe form a sort of swastika. Dix felt that this sloth or lack of concern and unwillingness to take early action by the German people had allowed Hitler's rise to power. The most poignant aspect of this picture is the representation of Envy, riding on the back of Avarice: he wears a Hitler mask. However, it wasn't until after the war that Dix painted in the telltale mustache.

Oil and egg tempera on wood - State Gallery, Stuttgart

Self Portrait with Palette before Red Curtain (1942)
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Self Portrait with Palette before Red Curtain (1942)

Artwork description & Analysis: Dix created many self-portraits throughout his lifetime. His maturity as an artist and a man can be chronicled in these reflective and intense studies of his own image. In this scene, he is fully facing the viewer, while in other portraits he is in profile. He is engaged in the act of painting, presumably the portrait itself. The dark and ominous view of the Alps can be seen out the window in the distance.

Mixed media on wood - Private Collection



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Otto Dix Photo

Related Art and Artists

Self Portrait in Tuxedo (1927)
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Self Portrait in Tuxedo (1927)

Artist: Max Beckmann

Artwork description & Analysis: Throughout the course of his career, Beckmann completed over 85 self-portraits. His continued practice of self-representation underlines the significance he placed upon the individual and the exploration of the inner self. Here, Beckmann presented the public with an image of a self-possessed artist, confident and proud of his career and ability. He easily conveyed the self-assurance of an artist at the height of his success through the casual pose, expression of indifference, and fashionable garb. Created at the pinnacle of his career in Germany, Beckmann situated himself centrally within the painting, and visually confronts the viewer head-on, staring right through him. The composition is structured by vertical and horizontal planes, as opposed the jarring diagonals of his earlier works, which adds to the air of stability and certainty of the overall work. The dominance of black and white not only add to the severity of the work, but also allude to the continued, eternal drama of the creation and recreation of the world in art. The straight lines, simplified forms, and areas of sharp contrast are typical of his work at this time and lend a harsh elegance to the painting. Beckmann illustrated his belief that artists were "of vital significance to the state" and "new priests of a new cultural center" in this self-portrait. Despite the calm conveyed by the artist's expression, the deep shadows provide the work with an air of foreboding. The contrast between the assurance of the artist and the sense of impending unrest resulted in a dynamic tension that Beckmann sought to portray within all of his work and which fueled the strength of his symbolism during the 1930s and 1940s.

Oil on canvas - Busch Reisinger Museum, Harvard University

Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909)

Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat (1909)

Movement: Expressionism

Artist: Oskar Kokoschka

Artwork description & Analysis: The esteemed art historians Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat commissioned this portrait by Kokoschka for their art collection. The colorful background and concentrated gestures of the figures represent the couple as "closed personalities so full of tension," as the artist once called them. As in many of his portraits, Kokoschka focuses on the inner drama of his subjects, here, using the couple's nervous hands as a focal point of their anxiety. His rendering depicts the way the artist perceived the couple's psyche, not necessarily their physical, naturalistic appearances. Kokoschka's emotional representation is emblematic of the Expressionist style. The swirling, abstract colors that obscure the background and emerge around them are characteristic of Kokoschka's frenetic, depthless renderings of space throughout his oeuvre.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Germany: A Winter's Tale (c. 1917)
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Germany: A Winter's Tale (c. 1917)

Artist: George Grosz

Artwork description & Analysis: Germany: A Winter's Tale, is close in style and composition to A Funeral: Tribute to Oskar Panizza(1917-18), which was created in the same time period. Both reference the shattered space of Cubism and the motion of Futurism. Grosz utilizes allegory throughout in order to maximize the impact of each figure and object within the tumultuous space of the painting. In the center, a man representative of the bourgeoisie readies himself to consume a meal, while a riot of bodies swirls around his head. The three figures at the bottom represent the church, state, and school, all of which spoon-feed their ideals to the receptive man. Those in control studiously ignore the resulting chaos, represented by figures such as the sailor, who Grosz declared to be a symbol of revolution. A Winter's Tale was named after a poem by Heinrich Heine, a darkly comedic work that was banned at the time of its 1844 publication due to its perceptive criticism of German society. Grosz acknowledged the German tradition of critical literature and aligned it with the visual arts tradition, while presenting a modern visual satire.

Oil on canvas - Whereabouts unknown

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Content compiled and written by Ashley Remer

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Content compiled and written by Ashley Remer
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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