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Sale: 380 / Modern Art, June 04. 2011 in Munich Lot 66

Otto Dix - Alte Birnbäume in Hemmenhofen

Lot description
Mixed media with Oil on panel
Löffler 1940/15. Monogrammed and dated lower left. 75 x 100,5 cm (29,5 x 39,5 in)
With cross ties on rear of wooden plate.

PROVENANCE: Private collection North-Rhine Westphalia.

Otto Dix was born on 2 December 1891 and grew up with three younger siblings in a socially democratic-thinking family on the outskirts of the residence city Gera. After an apprenticeship as a decorative painter and studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Dresden Dix' training was interrupted by the First World War. He spent four years as a soldier in France, Flanders and Russia. After the war he continued his studies at the Kunstakademie in Dresden and was one of the co-founders and central figures of the 'Dresdner Sezession - Gruppe 1919'. In autumn 1922 Dix moved to Düsseldorf and became Heinrich Nauen's and Wilhelm Herberholz's master pupil. The war experiences triggered his scathingly critical pictures like e.g. 'Der Schützengraben' (1923), which caused an art scandal with two other pictures. The same year Otto Dix started the etching-cycle 'Der Krieg' as climax and end of his graphic œuvre. After expressionistic and dadaistic beginnings Dix turned to the New Objectivity in 1922, moved to Berlin in 1925 and became the most distinguished portrait painter of the bohemia in Berlin and the intellectual society of the Weimar Republic. In 1927 he was appointed professor at the Dresden Akademie, but was dismissed again in 1933 and was finally no longer permitted to exhibit his works as an 'unwanted artist'. Dix then moved to Randegg near Singen and three years later to Hemmenhofen on Lake of Constance.

With Otto Dix‘s "inner" emigration in the days of National Socialism, at first in Randegg and later in Hemmenhofen, a new chapter of the artist’s painting was opened. Remote from the metropolis, which had always supplied him with ideas for his awkward and enigmatic portraits, Otto Dix sought to discover a new world in landscape depictions, which is also owed to the political changes. This new focus had by then been rather uninteresting to him. The landscape pictures from the late 1930s and the 1940s show an artist that seems to have changed quite a bit, as he now seeks his motifs in a manner that calls reminiscence of the Old Masters and the influence of the 16\up5 th century Danube School. However, the landscapes may appear innocent at first sight, but yet, they have their own dynamic. One the one hand, there is a clear artistic perfection with which Otto Dix endows his landscapes, on the other hand, there is a secret, almost mystic message that seems to hover above all these landscapes, its decryption remains a mystery to the observer. Despite their seeming closeness to nature, the landscapes are composed on the basis of observations of nature and made in the studio. The bulky group of old pear trees and its monumentality dominates our picture, the rest of the landscape remains in the background. But yet, a swarm of birds leads the eye into the picture’s depth and gives a slight idea of freedom, a freedom that is, in return hidden behind the mighty group of trees. In this arrangement one could see a metaphor for the days in which the work was made.

In 1945 the artist was drafted into the 'Volkssturm' and was captured by the French in Colmar. After the war annual stays in Dresden, the membership at the academies in Berlin-Dahlem and East-Berlin led to a continuing shuttling over the frontier and between two state arts. Dix' trips to Southern France, Italy and Greece were enriched in 1962 by a study stay at the Villa Massimo in Rome and two years later by the membership of honor of the Accademia delle arte del disegno in Florence. Since 1950 there was a thematical and stylistic change in his late works, which led from the urban culture to bucolism, from the polemically realistic to the carefree-expressionistic. Dix was still interested in portraits, but religious subjects and landscapes also played a dominant role. Otto Dix is counted among the most important German artists of the 20th century. His work mirrors in its lively changeability the caesurae of the century, without abstraction, which was dismissed and criticized by Dix up to a great age. [KD].

Otto Dix
Alte Birnbäume in Hemmenhofen, 1940.
Oil on panel
€ 60,000 / $ 70,200
€ 274,500 / $ 321.165

(incl. 22% surcharge)

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