Otto Dix was the dominant and perhaps best known artist of the movement known as Neue Sachlichkeit, (the “New Realism” or “New Objectivity”), in German painting in the 1920s and 30s. However, his passionate involvement with the people whose lives he portrayed in his figurative pictures and portraits makes him in a sense unrepresentative of the movement: the urgency with which he described the appalling carnage of war or the sordid aspects and events of an impoverished civilization made the polished realism of his contemporaries for him an impossible object. Especially in his drawings, Dix introduced a vigorous expressionism of technique to assist him in the search for, in his own words, one side of reality (which) has never before been depicted: ugliness.
Dix moved between Dresden, Dusseldorf and Berlin during the 1920’s; in 1929 he was invited to take up a professorship in the Dresden Academy of Painting, which, after some hesitation, he accepted. Dix’s portraiture at this stage of his career demonstrates his profound compassion for his fellow man; his commissioned works as well as the extraordinary portraits that he made of street people and figures of the demi-monde are despondent but committed prognoses of the individual’s fate.
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