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War: The Prints of Otto Dix

Otto Dix

Otto Dix
Lens wird mit Bomben belegt (Lens being bombed) 1924
The Poynton Bequest 2003
Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
© Otto Dix 1924. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney 2008

War: The Prints of Otto Dix

7 November 2008 – 1 February 2009 Gallery 14, QAG
A National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition.

‘I did not paint war pictures in order to prevent war. I would never have been so arrogant. I painted them to exorcise the experience of war. All art is about exorcism.’
— Otto Dix

Otto Dix’s print cycle Der Krieg (War) 1924 ranks alongside Picasso’s Guernica 1937 as one of the most powerful indictments of war created in the twentieth century.

Produced as a print portfolio in an edition of 70, Der Krieg consists of 51 etchings in drypoint and aquatint. Visually and emotionally, Der Krieg draws on Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra (Disasters of War), a series of enormously confronting etchings based on Goya’s own experiences of the Spanish War of Independence (1808–14), published in 1863.

Dix (1891–1969) fought in World War One as a volunteer, serving as a machine gunner for the German army on the Western Front in 1915. He was at the Somme during the major allied offensive of 1916, and was wounded several times, once almost fatally. Many of the images in Der Krieg are based on Dix’s diary sketches from this time.

Depicting scenes of the utmost savagery and devastation, Der Krieg is a timeless reminder of the misery and suffering caused by war. It reflects Dix’s fascination with the potential extremities of human behaviour that war can induce, and his own horror at the ‘ghastly, bottomless depths of life’ that were revealed to him while he was a soldier.

'War: The Prints of Otto Dix' is a travelling exhibition from the National Gallery of Australia, which acquired this highly significant print cycle in 2003.  Fore further information please visit the National Gallery of Australia's website: www.nga.gov.au/dix


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The National Gallery of Australia is an Australian Government Agency.