Salon I by Otto Dix | my daily art display
Today I am looking at a painting by an artist whose work has frequently shocked the public. His art often focused on the First World War and the aftermath of it on the people of Germany. It was not his intention to shock people with what was depicted in his paintings. It was simply his intention to tell the truth through his art and ensure that people would not ever forget the price citizens had to pay when their governments took them to war. Of his controversial paintings, he said:
“I’m not that obsessed with making representations of ugliness. Everything I’ve seen is beautiful.”
“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.”
“People were already beginning to forget, what horrible suffering the war had brought them. I did not want to cause fear and panic, but to let people know how dreadful war is and so to stimulate people’s powers of resistance.”
World War I broke out in 1914 and Otto Dix enthusiastically enrolled in the German army. His first assignment, as a non-commissioned officer, was to join up with a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the autumn of 1915 he was assigned as a non-commissioned officer of a machine-gun unit in the Western front and took part of the Battle of the Somme. He was seriously wounded on a number of occasions. In 1917, his unit was transferred to the Eastern front where he remained until the end of hostilities with Russia. He then returned with his regiment to the western front and took part in the German Spring offensive. He earned the Iron Cross second class for valour and reached the rank of vice-sergeant-major. By the end of the conflict, he had been wounded on five separate occasions. Dix was horrified and very much affected by the horrific sights he had witnessed during the four years of the war and these visions caused him to have many persisting nightmares well after the end of hostilities.