Otto Dix (1891 - 1969)

Bilderbuch für Hana und andere Trouvaillen

(Picture book for Hana and other discoveries)

Exhibition catalogue, text by Peter Barth
Düsseldorf: Remmert and Barth Gallery, 2016
162 p., numerous figures in full colour and black-and-white
Complete reproduction of the 14 watercolours, greatly reduced in size.
(Original size: 50,8 x 36,0 cm, signed)

The book and its history


The pictures for this picture book were only discovered in 2016 in the estate of the Koch family (Martin and Hana Koch, children of Martha Dix from her first marriage) and shown in 2017 as part of a major Otto Dix retrospective in Düsseldorf. The picture book is dated around 1925 and is dedicated to the daughter of his wife Martha, who was about five years old at the time.
For the title page, Dix chooses a large cornucopia horn dominating the picture, surrounded by three chubby cupids. The letters, painted with a wide brush, seem to tumble out of the horn. The first picture shows the Koch family with the two children Martin and Hana in medieval clothes on horseback in front of a castle hill, the property of the Koch family. The following are pictures of fairy tales, legends, and biblical stories, including dramatic scenes such as David's impressive battle against the giant Goliath, Noah's Ark in the raging sea, Samson defeating the lion or the rather terrifying portrayal of Saint Anthony's temptation. Even in the depiction of the Seven Deadly Sins, a tableau of strangely menacing hybrid creatures, Dix certainly didn't think so much about the little girl. In the later picture books for his sons Ursus and Jan there are pictures similar in composition and motifs, bearing the title carnival procession (not named by Dix). In 1933, Dix produced a large painting entitled "The Seven Deadly Sins" (today in the Kunsthalle Karlsruhe), which takes up motifs used in the watercolor picture book images for Ursus.

Biographical note

Otto Dix, born 1891 in Gera, died 1969 in Singen, painter and graphic artist of the New Objectivity and Expressionism.
After an apprenticeship as a decorative painter he studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Arts and Crafts) in Dresden. After military service from 1914 to 1918 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. Dix was co-founder of the 'Dresden Secession' in 1919. He is regarded as a pioneer of the New Objectivity, a new kind of socio-critical realism, also known as Verism. From 1927 to 1933 he taught as professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. During this time he experienced his artistic breakthrough and recognition through participation in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad. When the Nazis seized power in 1933 he was one of the first art professors to lose his job. He evaded political pressure and the latent personal threat through inner emigration and relocation to the countryside in southern Germany. In 1937/38, eight of his paintings were shown in the exhibition 'Degenerate Art' in Munich; a total of 260 works from German museums were confiscated. From 1936 he lived mainly in his house in Hemmenhofen on Lake Constance, which is now a museum. He left behind an extensive body of work with more than 6000 drawings and sketches.

Literature/Links

www.otto-dix.de (Otto Dix Stiftung)

 

Otto Dix – zum 99. Kinderwelt und Kinderbildnis
Wendelin Renn (hrsg.) Ausstellungskatalog der Städt. Galerie
Villingen-Schwenningen, 1991

 

Olaf Peters: Otto Dix. Der unerschrockene Blick.
Eine Biographie, Stuttgart 2013

 

Otto Dix. Der böse Blick
Ausstellungskatalog, Hrsg. Kunstsammlung Nordrheinwestfalen
Düsseldorf, 2017/ London, Tate, 2017

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