Gallery visit to the Kunstsammlung Museum, Dusseldorf

Gallery visit to the Kunstsammlung Museum, Dusseldorf

This museum featured a special exhibition of the works of Otto Dix (1891-1969) who arrived from Dresden to Dusseldorf (1921) as a penniless artist and then in just 3-4 years moved to Berlin as successful, well known artist. During his highly productive period in Dusseldorf, he transformed himself from an expressive Dadist painter to a skillful portraitist of his time in the style of New Objectivity.

There was a wealth of material to enjoy – drawings, watercolours, mixed media and oils. I loved his watercolours and in particular his mix of watercolour, gouache and indian ink – a mix that I wish to try out in my drawings. (One example of this technique is Strich III – Red Light District III (1922) – another is In the Cafe (1922) – great informal head shots).

Inspiration for Part 2 of the drawing course (Interiors) could be found in Tavern in Hamburg (1922) – Watercolour, oil pastel, ink and graphite on paper. Also Suicide -Hanged Man (1922): a superb interior of which there are several versions.

His Mother and Child (1923) Oil on plywood intrigued me – Why did he paint a dark skinned woman (mother) and white child, and why were the mother’s hands painted so large and detailed? He also painted a red background and a very dominating red coat on the woman. Perhaps I need to study this painting further!

A series of etchings entitled Death and Resurrection (1922) would be useful to study for the anatomy and figure drawings in Part 4 of the drawing course. An interesting play on this theme was used in his portrait of Two circus performers – Defiers of death (1922) – this was wonderfully drawn using watercolour and pencil.

Death was also a major theme in his War Series (1924) – a series of 50 etchings which formed his ‘Record of Hell’ and experience of violence, death and decay on the battlefields and trenches of World War I.

The exhibition also featured some truly magnificent portraits of which my favorite was the very emotional and sad portrait of The poet Iwar von Lucken (1926) Oil and tempura on canvas – the image reminds me of The Pianist film which portrayed a Jewish family and their fate at the hands of the Nazis.

Also The art dealer Alfred Flechtheim (1926) Oil on wood – this was a powerful unflattering portrait which gave the subject an very long arms, huge hands and big nose/ears. Apparently this dealer never represented Dix! The texture on the dealers jacket was amazing and looks just like tweed – painted in dots and dashes – a real masterpiece!

I made some quick sketches of these two portraits.

Lastly, I wish to mention his Portrait of Frau Martha Dix (1926) – his wife lovingly painted – she is dressed in a delicately detailed dress with a pattern of very decorative flowers.

An extremely memorable and inspiring visit.

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