Dix on Chicks, Down in the Trenches

One of Weimar Germany’s most important artists was the mysterious Otto Dix (1891-1969), who was famed for his striking portrayal of both bourgeois society and the seedy underclass, as they struggled in a rapidly degenerating Berlin society.

The motivation for the realism of his work, particularly arising from his war service as machine gunner in WW1 is highlighted in a 1963 interview:

‘I had to experience how someone beside me suddenly falls over and is dead and the bullet has hit him squarely. I had to experience that quite directly. I wanted it. I’m therefore not a pacifist at all – or am I? Perhaps I was an inquisitive person. I had to see all that myself. I’m such a realist, you know, that I have to see everything with my own eyes in order to confirm that it’s like that. I have to experience all the ghastly, bottomless depths of life for myself.’


Living in post-Kaiser Berlin, the absence of censorship resulted in Berlin becoming a New Babylon, providing ripe material for Dix as the city went to extremes to satisfy the every desire of anyone with hard foreign currency. One of his more famous subjects was the German dancer, actress, writer, and prostitute, Anita Berber – a daughter of Bohemian parents who was dancing in cabaret in Berlin by the time she was 16, and working nude by the time she was 19.


The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber: Weimar Berlin’s Priestess of Depravity

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At the age of 29 she was an alcoholic and cocaine addict, dying soon after of tuberculosis, but immortalised forever by the defining portrait by Dix.

Anita Berber-Dix

Even though Otto Dix was regarded as something of a war hero and awarded the Iron Cross for his service, he would be blackmarked by the Nazi regime as a degenerate artist for the themes and brutality of his works.

Ottos striking realism of conflict can be viewed in a travelling exhibition now winging its way across Australia – War: the prints of Otto Dix, showcasing Otto Dix’s war portfolio Der Krieg of 1924, a collection of 51 etchings with aquatint and dry point which is regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the twentieth century. Consciously modelled on Goya’s equally famous and equally devastating Los Desastres de la Guerra (The disasters of war).

Until 28 January 2008
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide SA

12 April –10 August 2008
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Vic.

22 August – 26 October 2008
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney NSW

7 November 2008 – 1 February 2009
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane QLD


Jonathan Dec 30th 2007 06:40 pm Art,Events,Literature,News,People No Comments yet Trackback URI

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