Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit. Otto Dix was born in Untermhaus, Germany, now a part of the city of Gera. The eldest son of Franz and Louise Dix, he an iron worker and she a seamstress who had written poetry in her youth. Between 1906 and 1910, he served an apprenticeship with painter Carl Senff, in 1910, he entered the Kunstgewerbeschule in Dresden, where Richard Guhr was among his teachers. When the First World War erupted, Dix enthusiastically volunteered for the German Army and he was assigned to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the autumn of 1915 he was assigned as a officer of a machine-gun unit on the Western front. In November 1917, his unit was transferred to the Eastern front until the end of hostilities with Russia, back on the western front, he fought in the German Spring Offensive. He earned the Iron Cross and reached the rank of vizefeldwebel, in August of that year he was wounded in the neck, and shortly after he took pilot training lessons. He took part in a Fliegerabwehr-Kurs in Tongern, was promoted to Vizefeldwebel and he was discharged from service in 22 December 1918 and was home for Christmas. Dix was profoundly affected by the sights of the war, and he represented his traumatic experiences in many subsequent works, including a portfolio of fifty etchings called Der Krieg, published in 1924. At the end of 1918 Dix returned to Gera, but the year he moved to Dresden. He became a founder of the Dresden Secession group in 1919, in 1920, he met George Grosz and, influenced by Dada, began incorporating collage elements into his works, some of which he exhibited in the first Dada Fair in Berlin. He also participated in the German Expressionists exhibition in Darmstadt that year and his 1923 painting The Trench, which depicted dismembered and decomposed bodies of soldiers after a battle, caused such a furore that the Wallraf-Richartz Museum hid the painting behind a curtain. In 1925 the then-mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, cancelled the purchase of the painting, Dixs work, like that of Grosz—his friend and fellow veteran—was extremely critical of contemporary German society and often dwelled on the act of Lustmord, or sexual murder. He drew attention to the side of life, unsparingly depicting prostitution, violence, old age. In one of his few statements, published in 1927, Dix declared, The object is primary, when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they regarded Dix as a degenerate artist and had him sacked from his post as an art teacher at the Dresden Academy. He later moved to Lake Constance in the southwest of Germany, Dixs paintings The Trench and War cripples were exhibited in the state-sponsored Munich 1937 exhibition of degenerate art, Entartete Kunst
Otto Dix on 12 April 1957
Otto Nagel (left) and Dix (right) on 12 April 1957
Otto Dix House in Gera. The artist's birthplace opened as a museum in 1991.
Stormtroopers Advancing Under Gas, etching and aquatint by Otto Dix, 1924