Famous Expressionist painter, Otto Dix (1891-1969), was born in Unternhaus, Germany. After finishing elementary school he went on to work locally as an apprentice and then in 1910 joined the Dresden School of Arts and Crafts. While his early works were ‘Expressionist’ & colorful, the World Wars and their aftermaths had majorly influenced Otto’s later strong works. The most significant influencer was his experience as a machine gunner in the German army during World War I. Many of Dix’s post war paintings show what Germany looked like in the 1920s, a reality not everyone was comfortable looking at. Dix’s grotesque depiction shocked most of German society, following the war. Two subjects he particularly focused on were soldiers crippled, killed, and forgotten in the war and the large number of prostitutes spread all over German cities, with the revelers having optimal fun. His most famous painting is the triptych “Metropolis” (1928), depicting the major elements of the German society post the World War I.
The left-hand panel of “Metropolis” depicts a crippled war soldier entering a poor area of Berlin and welcomed by a line of prostitutes beckoning. A man, probably a soldier is shown lying dead on the street. The central panel of the painting shows the prosperity of the city in the so-called German “Golden Twenties,” influenced by American jazz and dance. The right panel of the creation reflects flashy and classy prostitutes searching for clients in the more affluent parts of the city, depicted by the elaborate architecture. Therefore, the two side panels of the painting reflect the contrasts coexisting in German society at the same time.
Following the war, Dix’s paintings had become increasingly political and reflected his anger on the manner in which war wounded and crippled soldiers were treated in Germany. His paintings, such as “War Cripples” (1920), “Butcher’s Shop” (1920), and “War Wounded” (1922) reflected his views clearly. Dix spent six years on what are regarded as two of his famous pieces of art, “Metropolis” (1928) and “Trench Warfare” (1932). He painted several portraits of prostitutes either in the brothels or on the street. “The Salon” is one of the more famous of his representations of prostitutes. Dix’s creations splashed the shocking aspects of German society on canvas. To add, no one could miss out the significant intricacies of the realities behind his creations. He also started doing portraiture that focused on the worse traits and the weaknesses of his sitters, irrespective of the class of society they came from. Otto Dix died in Singen, Germany, in 1969, but not before he had given the world extraordinary creations such as the “Metropolis,” which presently graces Galerie der Stadt, Stuttgart, Germany.