The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey presents the first major retrospective in Mexico of the Otto Dix (1891-1969), one of the most important German artists of the 20th century, whose work utilizes an extreme and critical realism to capture the horrors of war and the cracks in German society at the time.

Organized by MARCO, MUNAL and the Goethe-Institut Mexiko as part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year 2016-2017, the exhibition highlights the artistic development of Otto Dix and analyzes the different aspects that characterized his work with more than 150 pieces created between 1913 and 1969, using techniques such as oils, lithography, etchings and pencil drawings.

The artists interpreted his own life experiences during the war and in the big city, but more importantly, his contradictory experiences with people from every part of the social spectrum during extreme situations. His work provokes and challenges the viewer to reflect upon his surroundings, to look at it through the critical eye of Dix, which accepts no subtleties.

Otto Dix is described by curator Ulrike Lorenz as a realist, an expressionist, Dadaist or ancient master, a committed and eclectic painter, fan of reality, a visionary, a moralist and a cynic. Scarred by two world wars, he was celebrated as an “essential artistic force”, was insulted as being a “reactionary painter of leftist themes” and branded as the inventor of “immoral obscenities”; he proclaimed he was a “sovereign proletarian”.

The exhibition is made up of seven sections that reveal the different techniques and styles used by the German artist during his artistic career as well as the recurrent themes in his work, including the war, the portrait, the nude and Berlin society.

Drawings made with red and black ink with erotic, Christian and mythological motifs welcome the audience in the section titled The Will to Art. The Dialectic of Eros and Thanatos, these early works by the German announce his forceful entry into the artistic scene and in them, we can see for the first time, his significant stylistic syncretism.

In the section titled The end of the world. The trauma of the World War in Dix´s work, we can see the profound traces left behind by his experiences as a gunner during the war. As a type of documentary, the series of 50 etchings The War depicts with meticulous detail scenes of horrible daily occurrences experienced by its protagonists: bombed out landscapes, trenches with lifeless bodies, mutilated soldiers waiting to return home or looking for a moment of respite in bars and brothels.

When the fighting is over, Dix is confronted by squalor, class struggles and a post-war German society. The section titled Death and resurrection. Reality as construction shows us his merciless vision, which is reflected on crude watercolors of prostitutes and in the scenes of the series of etchings titled Circus as well as Death and resurrection.

Without a doubt he was a great portraitist and his acuity, control and psychological instincts are apparent in the section titled The face of an era. In the mirror of the epoch. His realist and relentless style drove him to highlight the defects in features to such a degree that some of his portraits border on caricatures and satire.

Dix´s fascination of the figurative diversity and the expressive strength of feminine features can be appreciated in the section titled Eros in the metropolis. Body and society. The artist turns his attention to naked bodies and uses oils to paint corporal landscapes in nonsensical arrangements.

In Vision of reality. Verism and allegory, we can see the artist´s interest in creating enigmatic hybrid images and his allegoric and philosophical tendencies. The significant hybrid character of his paintings is Dix´s specific contribution to modernism.

The exhibition ends with the section titled War and peace. In divided Europe. After the Second World War, the artist experiments with other techniques and develops a neoexpressionist verism, creating contemporary symbols of guilt and atonement inspired by Christian iconography.

The exhibition Otto Dix. Violencia y pasión [Otto Dix. Violence and passion] will remain open to the public from June 27 until Sunday September 18, 2016.

© MUSEO DE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO DE MONTERREY, 2016 | Zuazua y Jardón S/N, Centro. Monterrey, N.L. Mexico, 64000 | Ph. +52 (81) 8262.4500

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