"Sturmtruppe geht unter Gas vor
[Stormtroops advancing under a gas attack]" 1924
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Poynton Bequest 2003
© Otto Dix/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
A National Gallery of Australia Travelling Exhibition"I did not paint war pictures in order to prevent war. I would never have been so arrogant. I painted them to exorcise the experience of war. All art is about exorcism.’
Otto Dix’s series War [Der Krieg], 1924, arose out of his personal experiences as a soldier in the First World War. Dix (1891–1969) fought as a machine-gunner on the Western Front, where he was wounded a number of times. War profoundly affected him as an individual and as an artist. He took every opportunity to document what he saw and, still haunted by his memories several years after the end of the war, Dix produced a series of 51 etchings based on his sketches and recollections.
The War series is consciously modelled on Francisco Goya’s The disasters of war (c.1810–20), which depicts the brutality of the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, and Dix’s images of 20th century trench warfare are equally uncompromising. Like Goya, Dix used a variety of etching techniques with astonishing facility. The War series remains one of the most potent indictments of war ever conceived, and is regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the twentieth century.