Page 9 - summer 22
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beginning to unroll; her boldly fixed monocle; her bitter expression; and the angular

            overall composition, from her pointed chin to the twisted pose of her arms. These
            exaggerations make her a stereotype, “a gripping and hypnotic image of modern
            emancipation with all its contradictions.” Dix reveals the anxieties and hypocrisies of
            post-First World War German society by painting figures such as war profiteers,
            crippled veterans, prostitutes and pregnant working-class women living in squalor.
            He was influenced by his experiences as First World War artillery gunner: “War is so
            bestial: hunger, lice, mud, those insane noises. I had the feeling, on looking at the
            pictures from my early years, that I had completely missed one side of reality so far,

            namely the ugly aspect.” He also targeted the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie.

            When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Dix was sacked from his teaching job as the
            Dresden Academy. They also confiscated over 250 of his works, then exhibited
            several in their notorious exhibition of Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) held in
            Munich in 1937, staged to ridicule modern artists and purge them from German
            culture. The gallery had crude slogans on the wall, like “Revelation of the Jewish

            racial soul” and “Nature as seen by sick minds.” Nazi art, at Hitler’s insistence, was
            “heroic-realist”, stereotyped images designed to glorify the Aryan race - basically lots
            of statuesque blonds.

            What these two paintings reveal is that the Modernist revolution was a revolution
            from within. The traditional art forms endured; portraiture was clearly alive and well;
            but the conventions governing their execution were re-written and unlike anything
            before. The bonfire of the conventions is indeed the key. By 1900 artists were

            confronted with a new world of modernity, faster and more fragmented than ever
            before. Innovation, they realised, had to be met with innovation.

            Next session we’ll look at the seven creators of Modernism.
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