You know, if one paints someone's portrait, one should not know him if possible.
April 1, 2011 9:53 AM   Subscribe

"It is my wish to come very close, strikingly close, to the times in which we live, without submitting to artistic dogma...
I need the connection to the world of senses, the courage to portray ugliness, life as it comes."
Otto Dix best known for his Weimar era work such as the now lost Street Fight.
Probably his most well know portraits are of the uninhibited dancer Anita Berber and of the writer and poet Sylvia von Harden.
Here are a couple of Galleries of his work and a six part video on Dix: Postcards from the front 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6;
posted by adamvasco (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Otto Dix is one of my favorite painters. Certainly my favorite Weimar artist.

I really, really like this one, Self Portrait With Carnation. I like his self-portraits best, that intense, bad-tempered stare that is an intensification of what the photos show.

Looking at some of these, I feel like he influenced some of the later and less well known surrealists, maybe? Some of his twenties work suggests Leonor Fini or Remedios Varos to me a bit.

The compromises and small cowardices in his life speak strongly to me--that he was a modestly vocal dissenter who did not flee Germany or avoid conscription during the second world war, that he painted religious paintings after the war rather than primarily political ones. As a basically cowardly, risk-averse, dreamy person who none the less does a lot of activist stuff, I read his life as a kind of equal tug-of-war between political beliefs, personal beliefs and personal limitations. There are certainly figures from Weimar whose actions I admire more, but none whose life I could see myself living (minus being the genius painter part, of course).
posted by Frowner at 10:44 AM on April 1, 2011

I was fortunate to get free tickets to the opening of the MOMA German Expressionism show two weeks ago. The exhibit should have been called Otto Dix and Some Randoms Who Couldn't Hold Otto's Jock Strap (except for Egon Schiele). I was blown away. There is an entire wall of his etchings from WWI which was terrifying and yet mesmerizing. Anyone who has the chance should go.
posted by spicynuts at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Frowner: he was associated with with George Grosz and Dada which was the precurser of Surrealism so yes I am sure he influenced several of them. He definitely influenced this modern surrealist.
I think the influences went each way (nsfw).
posted by adamvasco at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2011

I used to think it might be cool to live in Weimar Berlin. Now that we're here, not so much.
posted by aramaic at 11:17 AM on April 1, 2011

Oh, it would be great to live in Weimar Berlin...for a few years, as a wealthy foreigner with, oh let's see, maybe Swiss citizenship. Sign me up for that piece of time travel...
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on April 1, 2011

There is a very brief tribute to the portrait of von Harden in the 1972 film version of Cabaret.
posted by ovvl at 3:33 PM on April 1, 2011

Thank you for this post, Otto Dix is one of my favourites of the Weimar era. One can still see his influence in contemporary art, even right in the first link, though not so much the anger that seems to lie behind his lacerating eye.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 4:45 PM on April 1, 2011

Thanks for this. Hadn't heard of them, but the book about Anita Berber showed up here yesterday.
posted by jtron at 6:06 PM on April 1, 2011

Like his work lots. Thanks.
posted by Rykey at 3:14 PM on April 2, 2011

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