Friday, November 13, 2009

Arty Farty Friday ~ Otto Dix

Two days ago, 11/11, there was hushed remembrance of the sacrifices of two twentieth century world wars. It's appropriate this Arty Farty Friday to feature an artist who fought in both wars, and showed through his paintings that he was scarred, both physically and mentally, as were so many, on both sides of the conflicts. This artist was German: Otto Dix. We can, through his paintings, take a view of war from one who was, in those dark days, classed as "our enemy".

All art is exorcism. I paint dreams and visions too; the dreams and visions of my time. Painting is the effort to produce order; order in yourself. There is much chaos in me, much chaos in our time.
Otto Dix
Dix aspired to a career in art early on, and in 1910 entered the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. World War One erupted four years later. Dix volunteered, served at the Battle of the Somme, was badly wounded, several times, and almost to the point of death on one occasion.
As a young man you don't notice at all that you were, after all, badly affected. For years afterwards, at least ten years, I kept getting these dreams, in which I had to crawl through ruined houses, along passages I could hardly get through.
Otto Dix
Post- war many of his paintings depicted the darker side of German society, violence, prostitution, depravity, and the forgotten disfigured veterans of the First World War. Many of his paintings were later burned by the Nazis, who also had him dismissed from a post as art teacher at the Dresden Academy.

Along with all other practicing artists, Dix was forced to join the Nazi government's Reich Chamber of Fine Arts , a subdivision of Goebbels' Cultural Ministry. He had to promise to paint only inoffensive landscapes. He still painted an occasional allegorical painting that criticized Nazi ideals.In 1939 he was arrested on a trumped-up charge of being involved in a plot against Hitler but was later released. He was conscripted late in World War 2, captured by Frech troops at the war's end and released early in 1946.
He returned to teaching, in Dresden.
(See Wikipedia)
People were already beginning to forget, what horrible suffering the war had brought them. I did not want to cause fear and panic, but to let people know how dreadful war is and so to stimulate people's powers of resistance.
Otto Dix

Otto Dix born 2 December 1891 in what is now part of the city of Gera, Germany, at 1.30 am (Astrodatabank).

The first thing that sprang into my mind when I looked at the chart - this guy should never have had to live through what he had to live through! Nor, of course, should anybody else. Dix's four important personal planets all lay in benign, sunny-faced Sagittarius - aka the wise old owl of the zodiac. Sun and Moon close together, blending inner and outer consciousness as one, and Venus/Mercury conjoined bringing together his art (Venus) and communication skills(Mercury). Libra, his rising sign is ruled by Venus, and, again, the feeling comes that this guy was not built for war!
Brave and impetuous as he was - it really was not his "game" in any way at all.
these are his own words on the matter:
I had to experience how someone beside me suddenly falls over and is dead and the bullet has hit him squarely. I had to experience that quite directly. I wanted it. I'm therefore not a pacifist at all - or am I?

I have to experience all the ghastly, bottomless depths for life for myself; it's for that reason that I went to war, and for that reason I volunteered.

Saturn planet of limitation lies very close to his ascending degree and in 12th house, the house of restriction and withdrawal - a portent of future restrictions of one sort or another.

His natal Sun is opposed by Pluto and Neptune, two outer planets exactly conjoined in Gemini. Pluto, planet of transformation and, sometimes, death is blended with Neptune's imagination and creativity. This combination pretty much sums up the content of a lot of Dix's paintings. These two planets lie in opposition to his essence, his Sun and Moon, and certainly his paintings are just about as opposite as one could imagine from what one might expect of a quadruple Sagittarian.

The Nodes of the Moon have relevance here too I think. North Node is at 25 Taurus, conjunct Fixed Star Algol - thought of by ancient astrologers as the most malignant of all stars. There are no planets or points close enough to be termed conjoined the North Node, which was probably a very fortunate thing for Otto Dix. He did live through the horrors, with time to tell the tale in pictures, as a warning to generations who followed. That would be -us!

Triumph of Death

Disabled by war

The Salon

War Tryptych

Storm troops advancing under gas


Dance of Death

Night-time encounter with a madman

Tryptych contrasting a disabled veteran's plight with the lifestyles of wealthy war leaders.

The match seller (a Veteran of the war?)


Anonymous said...

Thank you! I'd seen a picture by Otto Dix, but I'd never known about his life or natal chart. Timely too.

Wisewebwoman said...

I remember thinking when first exposed to his paintings, we never think of the 'enemy' having disabled, disregarded veterans. Just like us.
Thanks for bringing him to life again for me, T.

Twilight said...

patina~~~ Hi there! I'm pleased it was of interest. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes, I had similar thoughts, and decided his story was well worth airing here. Glad it was of interest. :-)