Monday, June 4, 2012

Dix, Otto

Die Familie des Künstlers (The artist's family)
Oil on wood
80 x 50 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (1891 - 1969) was a German painter, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war.

On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Dix volunteered for the German Army and was assigned to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the autumn of 1915 Dix was sent to the Western Front where he served as a non-commissioned officer with a machine-gun unit. Dix was wounded several times during the war. On one occasion he nearly died when a shrapnel splinter hit him in the neck. By the end of the war in 1918 Dix had won the Iron Cross (second class) and reached the rank of vice-sergeant-major. After the war He developed left-wing views and his paintings and drawings became increasingly political. He was angry about the way that the wounded and crippled ex-soldiers were treated in Germany.

In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Nazi Germany. Hitler and his Nazi government disliked Dix's anti-military paintings and arranged for him to be sacked from his post as art tutor at the Dresden Academy. Dix's dismissal letter said that his work "threatened to sap the will of the German people to defend themselves". Dix left Dresden and went to live near Lake Constance in the south-west of Germany. Soon afterwards, several of his anti-war paintings were destroyed by the Nazi authorities in Germany. In 1939 He was arrested and charged with involvement in a plot on Hitler's life. However, he was eventually released and the charges were dropped. In the Second World War Dix was conscripted into the German Home Guard. In 1945 he was forced to join the German Army and at the end of the war was captured and put into a prisoner-of-war camp. Released in 1946, he returned to Dresden. Most of his post-war paintings were religious allegories.