”All art is exorcism. I paint dreams and visions too; the dreams and visions of my time. Painting is the effort to produce order; order in yourself. There is much chaos in me, much chaos in our time. …As a young man you don’t notice at all that you were, after all, badly affected. For years afterwards, at least ten years, I kept getting these dreams, in which I had to crawl through ruined houses, along passages I could hardly get through.”( Otto Dix )
His art was socially critical and force the limits of satire into new territory. A vulnerable and fragile artist in an actively passive relationship with an equally unstable German society. Both resembling shattered glass or the shards of a broken vase clumsily re-assembled with glue and tape. Dix was recognized as leader of the ”New Objectivity ” movement which tried to find a truth within ambiguous contexts resulting in a new form of visual art in Germany somewhat similar to Diego Rivera and Frida Khalo in Mexico yet building on the psychological narratives of Francisco de Goya and his interpretations of war and the ensuing traumas it created.
Dix’s works are bleak, complex meditations on the unattainability of salvation. Despair, death and emotional breakdown for which the individual is fatalistically destined. The same morose and shadowy backdrop elucidated by Franz Kafka during the inter-war period. A foreboding sense of doom.
It could even be argued that no artist is able to accurately capture the true nature of war, except through some form of abstraction since the act itself is absurd and undefinable and in this sense Dix’s work are allegories.
Dix was part of a great European breakdown in cultural tradition that began at the beginning of the twentieth century, which artistically was an off-shoot of the Romantic tradition, albeit in an extreme form and urban setting:
”…totally rejected aesthetic standards: the painters were fascinated by ugliness; the composers threw harmony overboard, gradually moving towards dissonance; the poets and playwrights were preoccupied by the madness of great cities, parenticide and rats emerging from rotting corpses…underlying all this was the wish to shock a self-satisfied, satiated world and the artists’ enemies, which included the state, the middle classes, the philistines and authority in general…Beauty was a lie, ugliness was true, because it depicted man in all his weakness and spiritual poverty. The purpose of art was not to cater to aesthetic taste but to give expression to the most basic religious, individual and social experiences.” ( Walter Lacquer )
“Why was Weimar Germany such a dynamic place for the arts? Laqueur concludes that the Weimar era had “an abundance of talent as well as of sources of conflict, combined with the political freedom which made experimentation possible.”