Germany 1891 – 1969
Soldatengrab zwischen den Linien [Soldier's grave between the lines], plate 1 from Der Krieg
Description: plate 1 from the portfolio Der Krieg [War], a portfolio of 50 prints in 5 parts, plus 1 additional print
Place made: Berlin, Germany
Materials & Technique: prints, Intaglio etching and aquatint, printed in black ink. Support: BSB-Maschinen-Butten
Manufacturer's Mark: BSB
Edition: ed 58/70
Publisher: VERLAG KARL NIERENDORF
Place Published: Berlin
Date Published: 1924
Otto Dix's Der Krieg [War] 1924 is consciously modelled on Goya's [1746-1828] equally famous Los Desastres de la Guerra [The disasters of war] which detailed Goya's own account of the Spanish War of Independence from 1808 to 1814, although his cycle of eighty-two images was not published until 1863.
While Dix's cycle uses an equally astonishing array of etching techniques, its focus in many respects is quite different. War for Goya was an intimate horror, its initial impact localised, its ultimate effect incremental. As the images which open Dix's cycle demonstrate, his war is a modern war - the scale is vast. Not only are men killed in an arbitrary, anonymous and indiscriminate way, the landscape itself is torn apart, desecrated, ravaged in a way that is catastrophic. Often the landscape appears alien; other-worldly, nightmarish.
At the same time, each of these images has the immediacy of authentic experience. Many of them are in fact based on the diary sketches that Dix made while fighting in the trenches.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra