Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix, (born December 2, 1891, Untermhaus,
Thuringia, Germany — died July 25, 1969, Singen, Baden-Württemberg,
West Germany), was a German painter and engraver who mixed compassion and
Expressionist despair to create works harshly critical of society. He was
associated and exhibited with the Neue Sachlichkeit group of painters.
Son of a railway worker, Dix was apprenticed to a decorative artist and
received training in Dresden. An Impressionist at first, he experimented
with various trends in modern art until he arrived at a mordantly individual
style, a nightmarish vision of contemporary social reality. While teaching
at Düsseldorf (c. 1922–25) he did such representative paintings and
drawings as “Pimp and Girls” and “Two Sacrifices of
Capitalism” (the sacrifices are a grotesque prostitute and a defaced
former soldier). In 1924 he etched 50 plates, entitled “War,”
recording its horrors.
Appointed a professor at the academy in Dresden (1927), Dix was elected
to the Prussian Academy (1931). The Nazi regime, however, incensed at his
antimilitary works, cancelled these affiliations and barred him from
exhibiting. He was jailed in 1939 on a charge of complicity in a plot
on Adolf Hitler's life, but in 1945 he was drafted into the home guard
army at the age of 53. He was captured and released by the French.
Dix later turned to religious mysticism, as in “Saul and David”
(1945) and “Crucifixion” (1946).