Otto Dix at the Neue Galerie New York, Last Chance: Closes August 30!
Otto Dix was a major part of the excellent Glitter and Doom show a few years back at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his work also figured prominently in the MoMA's recent Dada exhibition. But this summer, the Neue Galerie in New York on the Upper East Side has been hosting the country's first-ever solo museum show of the German artist's provocative, unsparing work. The exhibition features more than 100 oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and etchings spread out over two floors of the museum's mansion-like space, and it is a visual knock-out, an arresting, at times quite disturbing portrait of, among other things, the trenches of the Great War, and the debauchery of Weimar Germany that immediately followed.
On the museum's second floor, set apart from the Neue Galerie's permanent collection of Klimts and Schieles, in an appropriately solemn, dimly lit room, is a selection of Dix's etchings made after the First World War, work that was later compiled into the seminal volume Der Krieg, or The War. Otto Dix spent three unspeakably hellish years in the trenches, leading a machine-gun squad for the German army–a period that included the carnage at the Somme, which saw over a million and half people dead or wounded–and these unflinching, unforgiving pieces show the nightmare in all of its misery, terror, and human brutality. Powerful, powerful stuff.
On the third floor the Neue Galerie New York exhibition is organized thematically, with the biggest rooms reserved for Dix's portraiture, showcasing some of the artist's best known works. Here, among his brilliantly, often-just-slightly-skewed images is Otto Dix's typically harsh Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber, at top, and his great Group Portrait, above, of his art-world contemporaries Gunther Franke, Karl Nierendorf, and Paul Ferdinand Schmidt, who once said of Dix, he "comes along like a natural disaster: outrageous, inexplicably devastating, like the explosion of a volcano. One never knows what to expect from this wild man.'"
Sexuality, a major theme in artist's work, is also much in evidence at the Neue Galerie NYC exhibition, and it is rarely a pretty sight, mostly porcine soldiers and obese burghers grasping at syphilitic prostitutes. One of our favorite Otto Dix paintings–and one of the few here from his cubist/expressionist years–A Memory of the Glass House in Brussels, above, falls squarely into this category, but there are plenty more. But the star of the show for us was the rarely exhibited Two Children, below, which, although certainly grotesque in its own way, stands out among all the grim and angry tidings here for the almost tender way Otto Dix approaches his subjects.
Otto Dix at the Neue Galerie in New York Details
Otto Dix at the Neue Galerie will be on exhibit from now through Monday, August 30. The Neue Galerie is located on East 86th Street, just east of Fifth Avenue, and is open on Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It's a pretty space, but small, and admission for adults is a fairly steep $15. For more information and images of the Otto Dix show, please see the Neue Galerie New York website.