Germany 1891 – 1969
Drahtverhau vor dem Kampfgraben [Barbed wire in front of the trenches], plate 30 from Der Krieg [The War]
Collection Title: Der Krieg [The War]
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
This is one of Otto Dix's images that most directly echoes the work of Goya, whose painting Execution of the Defenders of Madrid, 3rd May of 1813 shows a figure with arms similarly outstretched.
See Goya's Execution of the Defenders of Madrid, 3rd May at bridgeman.co.uk
Where Goya relied on paintwork and colour to convey the horror, Dix took up a pointed instrument and vigorously slashed cross-hatchings in sky, earth and tattered remains to produce an equally dynamic and dramatic effect. That this was very different from even Goya's approach to etching can be seen by looking at another similar image by Goya, this time from his The disasters of war, plate 2 called 'Rightly or wrongly', in which Goya used no cross-hatching at all.
See Goya's The disasters of war, plate 2 at bridgeman.co.uk
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra