Germany 1891 – 1969
Matrosen in Antwerpen [Sailors in Antwerp], plate 32 from Der Krieg
Description: plate 32 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, aquatint and drypoint, printed in black ink. Support: BSB-Maschinen-Butten
Manufacturer's Mark: BSB
Edition State: 2nd state
Edition: ed 58/70
Publisher: VERLAG KARL NIERENDORF
Place Published: Berlin
Date Published: 1924
Dix's unsentimental observation of the realities of war extended beyond the battlefield, the artist also acknowledged the less immediate casualties of warfare; the surviving soldiers who tried to deal with their brutal memories by drinking themselves into oblivion, and the prostitutes who offered them brief moments of comfort.
After the collapse of the currency in 1923, post-war Germany looked to the future. Bars and nightclubs proliferated in major European cities. Sailors in Antwerp is one of three prints in this portfolio that depict not only the bittersweet mood of this lively, seedy nightlife, but also those moments of empty solace a soldier might have experienced while on leave from the front. With a technique that is reminiscent of Goya, Dix uses a combination of velvety aquatint and coarse drypoint line, evoking the deep shadows and bright lights of the bar to convey a mood of joyless consolation.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra