Aug 1, 2013

The War: Dead Men before the Position near Tahure

The War: Dead Men before the Position near Tahure


Otto Dix

(German, 1891–1969)

printed by

Otto Felsing


published by

Karl Nierendorf

Etching and aquatint printed in black and gray

Support: Wove paper

Sheet: 35.3 x 47.5 cm (13 7/8 x 18 11/16 in.); Platemark: 19 x 25.2 cm (7 1/2 x 9 15/16 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2013.19

Catalogue raisonné: Karsch 119b

Impression: 23



Otto Dix married technique and expression in these painfully candid images of war from a portfolio of 50 prints. He exploited the corrosive qualities of the acid used to etch the copper plate by promoting a grainy unevenness, which reinforces the physical and moral decay in his horrific yet ordinary scenes of war. Nihilistic and brutal, Dix’s images match the Expressionists’ desire for raw truth. At times, they also call upon traditional iconography, such as the skulls, or memento mori (reminder of death), in Dead Men before the Position near Tahure.Dix called war both “horrible” and “tremendous,” and viewed the artist’s role as that of a witness: “No, artists are not there to reform and convert. They are far too little for that. They must testify.”

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