Otto Dix 1925  ‘Französischer Paar’ Watercolor Study

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Otto Dix 1925  ‘Französischer Paar’ Watercolor Study

Otto Dix (1891-1969) : Französisches Ehepaar (Französisches Paar)

Signed and dated ‘DIX’ (below right)

Gouache, watercolour and pen study on paper (phase 4 out of 4)

Size : 33 x 24 cm

Painted in 1925, this vibrant watercolor, with its outlandish and fiery vermillion-colored background richly infusing the scene with the mood of a bordello, depicts the intense and evidently sexually-charged relationship between a man and a woman as a kind of marriage of opposites. Entitled Französisches Ehepaar (French married couple), the painting portrays a coarse and evidently lustful male leering at his partner in a kind of painterly parallel of a clichéd Parisian tango. Each figure, almost mirroring the other in their pose and in the outline of their features, stares intently at the other across the fiery background in what is clearly a volatile and passionate relationship.

The subject is highly reminiscent of one of the most common subjects in Dix’s art in the 1920s, that of the Sailor and the prostitute. Indeed, the man’s features in this painting and his cap and pipe closely resemble those of the stereotypical sailor (Fritz Müller aus Pieschen or The Sicilian Pirate) that Dix repeatedly painted with a prostitute or visiting a harbour-town brothel. In this, as in so much of Dix’s work, the artist was expressing the coarse driving vitality of the erotic principle at work in society.

Artwork is in excellent condition

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Otto Dix 1925  ‘Französischer Paar’ Watercolor Study

Otto Dix (1891-1969) : Französisches Ehepaar (Französisches Paar)

Signed and dated ‘DIX’ (below right)

Gouache, watercolour and pen study on paper (phase 4 out of 4)

Size : 33 x 24 cm

Painted in 1925, this vibrant watercolor, with its outlandish and fiery vermillion-colored background richly infusing the scene with the mood of a bordello, depicts the intense and evidently sexually-charged relationship between a man and a woman as a kind of marriage of opposites. Entitled Französisches Ehepaar (French married couple), the painting portrays a coarse and evidently lustful male leering at his partner in a kind of painterly parallel of a clichéd Parisian tango. Each figure, almost mirroring the other in their pose and in the outline of their features, stares intently at the other across the fiery background in what is clearly a volatile and passionate relationship.

The subject is highly reminiscent of one of the most common subjects in Dix’s art in the 1920s, that of the Sailor and the prostitute. Indeed, the man’s features in this painting and his cap and pipe closely resemble those of the stereotypical sailor (Fritz Müller aus Pieschen or The Sicilian Pirate) that Dix repeatedly painted with a prostitute or visiting a harbour-town brothel. In this, as in so much of Dix’s work, the artist was expressing the coarse driving vitality of the erotic principle at work in society.

Artwork is in excellent condition

INFORMATION ON OTTO DIX

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (German: 2 December 1891 – 25 July 1969) was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.

Otto Dix was born in Untermhaus, Germany, now a part of the city of Gera. The eldest son of Franz and Louise Dix, he an iron foundry worker and she a seamstress who had written poetry in her youth, he was exposed to art from an early age. The hours he spent in the studio of his cousin, Fritz Amann, who was a painter, were decisive in forming young Otto’s ambition to be an artist. Between 1906 and 1910, he served an apprenticeship with painter Carl Senff, and began painting his first landscapes.

In 1910, he entered the Kunstgewerbeschule in Dresden (Academy of Applied Arts), where Richard Guhr was among his teachers.

He was profoundly affected by the sights of the war (WWI), and later described a recurring nightmare in which he crawled through destroyed houses. He represented his traumatic experiences in many subsequent works, including a portfolio of fifty etchings called Der Krieg, published in 1924.

At the end of 1918 Dix returned to Gera, but the next year he moved to Dresden, where he studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste. He became a founder of the Dresden Secession group in 1919, during a period when his work was passing through an expressionist phase. In 1920, he met George Grosz and, influenced by Dada, began incorporating collage elements into his works, some of which he exhibited in the first Dada Fair in Berlin.

In 1924, he joined the Berlin Secession; by this time he was developing an increasingly realistic style of painting that used thin glazes of oil paint over a tempera underpainting, in the manner of the old masters. His 1923 painting The Trench, which depicted dismembered and decomposed bodies of soldiers after a battle, caused such a furore that the Wallraf-Richartz Museum hid the painting behind a curtain.

Dix was a contributor to the Neue Sachlichkeit exhibition in Mannheim in 1925, which featured works by George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Karl Hubbuch, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz and many others. Dix’s work, like that of Grosz—his friend and fellow veteran—was extremely critical of contemporary German society and often dwelled on the act of Lustmord, or sexual murder. He drew attention to the bleaker side of life, unsparingly depicting prostitution, violence, old age and death.

Among his most famous paintings are the triptych Metropolis (1928), a scornful portrayal of depraved actions of Germany’s Weimar Republic, where nonstop revelry was a way to deal with the wartime defeat and financial catastrophe, and the startling Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926). His depictions of legless and disfigured veterans—a common sight on Berlin’s streets in the 1920s—unveil the ugly side of war and illustrate their forgotten status within contemporary German society, a concept also developed in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany, they regarded Dix as a degenerate artist and had him sacked from his post as an art teacher at the Dresden Academy. He later moved to Lake Constance in the southwest of Germany. Dix’s paintings The Trench and War cripples were exhibited in the state-sponsored Munich 1937 exhibition of degenerate art, Entartete Kunst. They were later burned.

Dix, like all other practising artists, was forced to join the Nazi government’s Reich Chamber of Fine Arts (Reichskammer der bildenden Kuenste), a subdivision of Goebbels’ Cultural Ministry. Membership was mandatory for all artists in the Reich. Dix had to promise to paint only inoffensive landscapes. He still painted an occasional allegorical painting that criticized Nazi ideals. His paintings that were considered “degenerate” were discovered among the 1500+ paintings hidden away by an art dealer and his son in 2012.

Dix eventually returned to Dresden and remained there until 1966. After the war most of his paintings were religious allegories or depictions of post-war suffering, including his 1948 Ecce homo with self-likeness behind barbed wire. In this period, Dix gained recognition in both parts of the then divided Germany. In 1959 he was awarded the Grand Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany (Großes Verdienstkreuz) and in 1950, he was unsuccessfully nominated for the National Prize of the GDR. He received the Lichtwark Prize in Hamburg and the Martin Andersen Nexo Art Prize in Dresden to mark his 75th birthday in 1967. Dix was made an honorary citizen of Gera. Also in 1967 he received the Hans Thoma Prize and in 1968 the Rembrandt Prize of the Goethe Foundation in Salzburg.

Dix died on 25 July 1969 after a second stroke in Singen am Hohentwiel. He is buried at Hemmenhofen on Lake Constance.

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