Otto Dix

German painter and printmaker (1891–1969)

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (2 December 1891 – 25 July 1969) was a German painter and print-maker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of German society during the Weimar Republic and the brutality of war. He is widely considered as one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.

April 1957: The President of the German Academy of Arts, Prof. Otto Nagel (left), and Otto Dix, on the day of the opening of his exhibition - quote of Otto Dix: 'If I can't be famous, I want at least to be infamous'


  • War too, must be seen as a natural occurrence.
    • War-Diary, c. 1915-16; as cited in Art of the 20th Century, Part 1, Karl Ruhrberg, Klaus Honnef, Manfred Schneckenburger, Christiane Fricke; publisher: Taschen 2000, p. 188
  • Lice, rats, barbed wire, fleas, shells, bombs, caves, corpses, blood, liquor, mice, cats, gas, artillery, filth, bullets, mortars, fire, steel: that is what war is! It is all the work of the Devil!
    • War Diary 1915–1916, Städtische Gallery, Albstadt, p. 25; as cited by Eva Karcher, Otto Dix, New York: Crown Publishers, 1987, p. 14
  • My nerves fell apart before I saw the front this time, the decaying corpses and piercing wire; for a while, they made me harmless, locking me up in order to undertake a special diagnosis of whatever military ability I might still have. The nerves, every last fiber, repugnance, repulsion!
    • letter from Görden 1917, to his brother-in-law, Otto Schmalhausen; as cited in Expressionism, a German intuition, 1905-1920, Neugroschel, Joachim; Vogt, Paul; Keller, Horst; Urban, Martin; Dube, Wolf Dieter; (transl. Joachim Neugroschel); publisher: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1980, p. 248
  • If I can't be famous, I want at least to be infamous.
    • Remark of 1919, as quoted in German Expressionism 1915-1925 : The Second Generation (1988) by Stephanie Barron. p. 71
  • Nobody wants to loo at it. What is it all supposed to mean.. ..the old whores and the old, worn out women, and of life is cares?. .It doesn't make anybody happy. No gallery wants to exhibit it.[ his work]. Why do you even bother to paint it.
    • as quoted in Art of the 20th Century, Part 1, Karl Ruhrberg, Klaus Honnef, Manfred Schneckenburger, Christiane Fricke; publisher: Taschen 2000, p. 188
  • [ had been fun] to be able to draw in the midst of boredom and misery..
  • After Herberholz had shown me all sorts of techniques, I suddenly got very interested in etching. I had a lot to say, I had a subject. Wash off the acid, put on the aquatint: a wonderful technique that you can use to get as many different shades and tones as you want. The 'doing' aspect of art becomes tremendously interesting when you start doing etchings; you get to be a real alchemist.
  • I'm a man who is concerned with reality. I have to see everything. I have to plumb the depths of life. And so I go to war. That's why I volunteered [in the German army]. And when I tell people that nowadays, they say, "Good grief, so Dix was an out-and-out militarist! How does that fit together? He painted a war picture that was so frightful, so horrific, and now he says he was a militarist?" Yes, that's just it! What I said was: "If you want to be a hero, you have to see this whole mess and still say yes to it.
    • Quote from Otto Dix, 1891-1969, p. 280; as cited in 'Portfolios', Alexander Dückers; in German Expressionist Prints and Drawings - Essays Vol 1.; published by Museum Associates, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California & Prestel-Verlag, Germany, 1986, p. 80
  • I had to experience how someone beside me suddenly falls over and is dead and the bullet has hit him squarely. I had to experience that quite directly. I wanted it. I'm therefore not a pacifist at all – or am I? Perhaps I was an inquisitive person. I had to see all that for myself. I’m such a realist, you know, that I have to see everything with my own eyes in order to confirm that it's like that. I have to experience all the ghastly, bottomless depths of life for myself; it's for that reason that I went to war, and for that reason I volunteered. [in the German army during world War 1. (1914-1918)]

Quotes about Otto Dix

chronologically arranged, after date of the quotes about Otto Dix
  • During the war, Dix kept a diary and a sketchbook with which he chronicled his experience. They would provide material for a major work of fifty prints called simply, The War. Dix was profoundly affected by the war. He described a recurring nightmare in which he crawled through bombed out houses. His experience with war and its aftermath became a dominant theme in the art he produced after 1914.
  • become a lightning rod the following winter when Paul F. Schmidt purchased it for the Dresden Museum. Later when Hitler came to power, it was seized and displayed in the Nazi's Degenerate Art exhibition. It was captioned, "Slander against the German Heroes of the World War".. .In this painting, Dix leaves no one unscathed. He damns the military for butchering his generation, the public for its fascination with these reconstituted men and the cripples themselves for their undiminished national pride.. .It's location is currently unknown and it is presumed destroyed.
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