Social Criticism 1920–24 | 'The War' 1924

Otto Dix experienced the First World War directly at the front. He made more than 600 drawings from 1915 to 1918 in battle zones in Belgium, France and Russia. Together with his personal memories, these protocols were the basis for the etchings entitled ‘The War’, published by Karl Nierendorf in 1924. These pictures not only give an authentic depiction of trench combat in the attrition warfare of the First World War, they unmask the Moloch of war as such. The 50-page cycle is often compared to Goya’s ‘Desastres de la Guerra’. ‘The War’ has a special place in Dix oeuvre and is the focus of the exhibition.

‘Critical Graphics’ caused a great stir and aroused the disapproval of Dix’s contemporaries. The etchings treat marginalized groups of post-war society, such as war disabled veterans and prostitutes. The exhibition shows selected examples.

Otto Dix never claimed to change people through his works. His paintings and graphics of the war, however, soon aroused the attention of the Nazis. After their seizure of power in 1933, he was one of the first professors to be relieved of his duties and was banned from exhibiting.


Eugen Keuerleber (1921–2002), museum director

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With over 20 touring exhibitions currently travelling across the globe and with its diverse event programmes on contemporary art, the ifa links the German art scene with internationally active cultural creators and forms cooperations and networks. The projects, many of which were developed in co-creation with local partners, cover the various disciplines of modern and contemporary fine arts – from current themes in architecture, photography and design to Bauhaus and monographic exhibitions such as Rosemarie Trockel or Wolfgang Tillmans. These projects generate local meeting platforms and allow international perspectives on topics of global relevance. The ifa also provides loan exhibits to interested museums.

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