OTTO DIX (1891-1969)
OTTO DIX (1891-1969)
OTTO DIX (1891-1969)
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OTTO DIX (1891-1969)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE BUCHHEIM MUSEUM, BERNRIED, GERMANY
OTTO DIX (1891-1969)

Der Krieg

OTTO DIX (1891-1969)
Der Krieg
the set of fifty etchings with drypoint and aquatint, 1924, most plates on laid paper, watermark BSB, some without watermark and 12 plates on wove paper, all signed in pencil, mostly unnumbered (one plate numbered 15/70 and dated 24 in pencil), presumably a proof set aside from the total edition of seventy published by Karl Nierendorf, Berlin, printed by O. Felsing, Berlin, all with margins, most sheets slightly trimmed and with small thin spots and repairs where previously tipped down at the sheet corners and edges, the subjects in very good condition, lacking the justification, table of contents, paper wrappers and linen portfolios
Plates 255 x 192 mm. (and similar), Sheets 448 x 332 mm. (and similar)
Lothar-Günther Buchheim (1918-2007), and Diethild Buchheim (1922-2014), Feldafing, Germany; after 2001 donated to the Buchheim Museum, Bernried am Starnberger See, Germany; de-accessioned from the collection as a duplicate in 2016.
Karsch 70-119
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Alexandra Gill Senior Specialist

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Lot Essay

Otto Dix's Der Krieg is one of the finest and most unflinching depictions of war in western art. His early 20th century vision of the horrors of the battlefield ranks alongside those of Jacques Callot's Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre and Francisco de Goya's Los Desastres de la Guerra (see lot 13).

Dix enlisted in the army soon after hostilities began and took part in some of the bloodiest engagements of the entire conflict, including the Battle of the Somme, the Russian front, Verdun and Ypres. His work before and in the early stages echoed the dynamism of the Italian Futurists, whose work was exhibited in Germany in 1913. Whilst Dix avoided the nervous collapse experienced by many other artists, including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann, he was nonetheless radically transformed by what he saw. The excitement and fascination with industrial warfare gave way to an intensely critical attitude towards the German social and military establishment once the war was over. Back in Dresden he became involved with a small Dadaist group, and through them exhibited in the First International Dada Fair in 1920. He adopted a collage technique, which had its roots in Dada as well as Cubism and proofed perfectly suited to depicting the grotesque products of war and its corrupting effects on society.

His horrific and grotesque, at times darkly funny, depictions of the war - the battlefields, the trenches, shell craters, soldiers in close combat, dismembered bodies and rotting corpses left behind in the mud - were the result of a desire, a need almost, to exorcise the ghosts that haunted him. 'My dreams were full of debris' he said many years later. (Quoted in 'Dix: War', John Willett, Disasters of War - Callot Goya Dix, Arts Council Touring Exhibition, South Bank Centre, London, 1998, p. 65).

This exorcism was typified by a large, gruesome painting entitled The Trench (1920-23), which was sold initially to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. After much controversy it was given back to Dix before at last finding a home in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden. In between it was sent on tour as part of a pacifist exhibition called Nie wieder Krieg! ('Never another War!'), the popularity of which prompted Dix's dealer Karl Nierendorf to commission a series of fifty prints on the same theme, to be published in Berlin in 1924.

The painting was to slumber in a Dresden storeroom until it was seized by the Nazis and shown in the notorious Entartete Kunst exhibition in 1937, where it hung near a complete set of Der Krieg. The painting subsequently disappeared, and was presumably destroyed. The prints, however, have survived - Dix's finest, most famous, passionate and shocking work.

It is fascinating to think that the present set belonged to Lothar-Günther Buchheim, himself the author of a harrowing account of 20th century warfare. His best-selling novel 'Das Boot' of 1973 (and the subsequent film) are based on Buchheim's own experiences as a young sailor on board a German submarine during World War II. In his later life, together with his wife Diethild, he formed an important collection of German Expressionist Art, now permanently housed at the Buchheim Museum in Bernried in Bavaria.

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