Georg Scholz, Lords of the World (1922) Photo © 2008 Museum Associates/LACMA
In his war diary, Otto Dix wrote, “Lice, rats, barbed wire, fleas, grenades, bombs, holes, bodies, blood, schnapps, mice, cats, gas, guns, dirt, bullets, mortars, fire, steel: this is war! This is the work of the Devil!” He later translated those impressions to the Der Krieg cycle, five portfolios of etchings produced in the 1920s. Rather than the predictable pacifist stance, Dix viewed his front-line experiences with the Expressionists’ Neue Sachlichkeit, or new objectivity, insisting that real courage lay in seeing conflict as an inevitable and “natural phenomenon” of human life.
Graphic art has long been the medium of choice for artists chronicling the horrors of war. Unlike Callot or Goya, however, Dix focuses on the “tremendous” in wartime scenes. The bemused naturalism of his etchin ...
Leann Davis Alspaugh writes about art, literature, and opera
more from this author