(German, born December 2, 1891–died July 25, 1969) was a world-renowned painter and print maker, known for his harsh and brutal depictions of war and the Weimer society. He is considered one of the leading artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity. Dix was born in Untermhaus, Germany, to Franz and Louise Dix. They were working-class parents, but Louise had an artistic side that included poetry. She exposed Dix to art through her cousin Fritz, who was a painter, and later became Dix’s mentor. Dix had an apprenticeship from 1906 to 1019 with Carl Senff, during which he first began painting. The artist attended Kunstgewerbeschule in Dresden.
Dix served in the German army during World War I, from 1915 to 1918, until he was wounded and discharged. The sights and acts of the war had a profound affect on the artist, and influenced his work for the rest of his life. Many of Dix’s artworks depicted his experiences, including the 50 etchings of Der Krieg
. After the war, he studied at Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste, and became a founding member of the Dresden Secession group. His work was markedly Expressionist, influenced by George Grosz
and Dadaism. By the 1920s, Dix’s art was becoming more morbid and realistic, including his The Trench
, which depicted decomposed and dismembered soldiers. This work was so disturbing that the Wallraf-Richartz Museum hid the painting from view, which eventually led to the dismissal of the museum director.
Dix’s paintings described the truth of war, and were a problem for government officials. The Nazis considered Dix a degenerate; they had him fired as an art professor at Dresden Academy. The artist was then arrested in 1939 for plotting against Adolf Hitler, but was later released. Dix was forced to serve in World War II, and was captured by French troops, before being released in 1946. Serving in another war further traumatized Dix and influenced his work.
The artist’s life after the war consisted primarily of painting allegories of religion and post-war suffering, but he was celebrated, not derided, for his Realism. Dix died in 1969 in Singen, Germany.