Germany 1891 – 1969
Toter Sappenposten [Dead sentry in the trenches], plate 18 from Der Krieg
1924 Description: plate 18 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 drypoint, 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 recalled, 'I had the feeling that there was a dimension of reality that had not been dealt with in art: the dimension of ugliness'. Many people still believe that art should deal only with what is beautiful. Even those who concede that Dix had cruel and tragic events to report may still protest at the ugliness of his art.
Not only did he choose the starker black and white of the etching medium, he also used many different techniques for making the hollows in the metal etching plates that would hold the printing ink. He thereby exploited the enormous potential of etching to produce messy, disintegrating, and apparently haphazard and quite dirty effects, creating an impression that the plates themselves had been attacked, bayoneted, shot at, and muddied with the mud of Flanders. What people denounce as ugliness is a visual equivalent of the acidic corrosiveness of his war experiences.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra