Dix, Otto

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Dix, Otto,

1891–1969, German painter and draftsman. Dix fought in World War I and returned to Düsseldorf haunted by the horrors he had witnessed. In 1924 he published War, a series of 50 etchings, horrifying visions of war's victims executed with great clarity. Associated with the new objectivitynew objectivity
(Ger. Neue Sachlichkeit), German art movement of the 1920s. The chief painters of the movement were George Grosz and Otto Dix, who were sometimes called verists.
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 movement in German expressionismexpressionism,
term used to describe works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision. The expressionist transforms nature rather than imitates it.
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, he depicted the sordid world of prostitutes and swindlers with a painful precision and intensity. His many arresting expressionist portraits (including many self-portraits) represent a cross-section of the world of the Weimar Republic. His work was condemned by the Nazis, who forced him from his professorship at the Dresden Academy of Art, drove him into internal exile in 1933, and included him in their 1937 exhibition of "degenerate" art. Accused of an attempt on Hitler's life in 1939, he was imprisoned in Dresden and later made a prisoner of war by the French. After the war he lived in West Germany.


See biographies by L. G. McGreevy (1981), F. Loffler (1982), E. Karcher (1988), and P. Gutbrod (2010); O. Peters, ed., Otto Dix (2010); I. F. Walther and E. Karcher, Dix (25) (2010).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dix, Otto


Born Dec. 2, 1891, in Unterhaus, near Gera, Thuringia; died July 25, 1969, in Singen, Baden (Federal Republic of Germany). German painter and graphic artist.

Otto Dix, the son of a worker, studied at the Dresden (1919-22) and Dusseldorf (1922-25) academies of art. He was a member of a number of progressive societies and a professor at the Dresden Academy of Art (1927-33). During the 1920’s, Dix was involved in the dada, expressionist, and Neue Sachlichkeit movements; at this time he valued anarchistic and nihilistic artistic trends.

Eventually overcoming these tendencies, Dix created a number of sharply truthful, socially critical works. The injustices of bourgeois society aroused in Dix furious anger, profound anxiety, and shock. His works of the 1920’s combine ruthlessly detailed representations, bordering on caricature, with terrifying grotesque fantasy and tragically fractured forms and images which are frequently pathologically ugly. Under fascist rule, Dix was forbidden to teach or to exhibit his works; many were removed from museums, and some were destroyed. During the 1930’s, Dix made extensive use of the symbolism, subject matter, and formal devices of 16th- and 17th-century German and Dutch painting.

After 1945 he returned partially to expressionism, working in a loose style. As a result of Dix’ terrible experiences during both world wars, a spirit of irreconcilable protest permeates his antimilitarist works—The Trench (1920-23), a series of etchings entitled War (1924), the triptych War (1929-32; Picture Gallery, Dresden), and the frescoes War and Peace (1960; City Hall, Singen). With equal passion Dix expressed his hatred of the bourgeoisie, fascism, and the horrors of the capitalistic city; he also revealed his compassion for the impoverished and his solidarity with the working class—Parents of the Artist (1921, Public Art Collections, Basel), Mother and Child (1921; Picture Gallery, Dresden), the triptych The Big City (1927-28; State Gallery, Stuttgart), the antifascist allegories, The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) and The Triumph of Death (1934), and Ecce Homo (1949). Dix was a master portraitist; his portraits are exaggeratedly expressive and at times sharply cutting in their characterization—Marianne Vogelsang (1931; National Gallery, Berlin).

In the German Democratic Republic, Dix was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Arts (1956) and an honorary member of the Union of German Artists (1966).


Turchin, V. “Otto Diks.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1971, no. 6.
Loffler, F. Otto Dix. Leben und Werk. Dresden [I960].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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