Memorial Day blog Art 1,2,&3 – Due 5/29


Look at the link below and comment on the artistry Dix uses to protest war.

How does he shape your response through subject and style?

What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?

What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?

Art 1, also do an hour sketchbook in response.

Art 2&3, continue work on major projects…..this may influence your final piece for the year……

As noted on the site: “Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix (2 December 1891 — 25 July 1969) was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war. Along with George Grosz, he is widely considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit.”


35 responses »

  1. How does he shape your response through subject and style?

    -I like his first painting and how he wants you to focus on the guy with the flower by painting a faded baby blue background. I feel like his paintings focus on one topic. For example, if he’s going dark he’ll make his whole color scheme with dark colors unless he’s trying to make you focus on something specifically. Where he’ll paint something (like a background) very light so whatever is dark,stands out.

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    -Dark colors with light colors. He’ll make something pop out if he wants you to notice something immediately.

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?
    -The one that affected me the most was the one with a man with a greenish scary looking face. I liked it because it definitely gave me the creeps. But it was very much worth looking at!

  2. All of the paintings look ferry interesting. They all range from simplistic paintings to extremely intercut works of art. I can see how he uses darker colors to show how devistating war is. But also at the same time he uses brighter colors to make the paintings appear more natural. I got a strong emotional connection from the painting with the dark baron landscape that looked like the aftermath of the apocalypse. It was very scary but Emotionaly touching as well.

  3. How does he shape your response through subject and style?
    — The thing that struck me about his style is how no matter what the subject matter (from war to dancing), there was usually certain darkness in the painting that was both disturbing and intriguing. Even the paintings with brighter colors often were disturbing in some way or another. The people he painted had a particular level of eeriness to them.

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    I think his negative portrayal of war was very bold in a time when war was glorified and thought of as a simple matter. The way he showed the misery and terrible qualities of war expressed this idea. His use of dark colors and haunting faces conveyed the horror of war very clearly and eloquently.

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?
    The work that affected me most was probably the painting at 0:18 in the video, featuring a very young and innocent looking little boy standing alone in a dark corner. Although I don’t know what this piece was meant to represent, to me it represents the children who were orphaned and abandoned due to the war, and how innocent people were hurt just as much as the people who fought, if not more.

  4. I think he shapes the way you view his art very well, because they are all very dark and ominous. He uses color and angular harsh shapes to create a sense of foreboding.

    His most important tools are, other than the subject matter itself, his use of fragmentation and dark colors to make everything really dark, portraying his message accurately.

    The work that affected me most was the one in black and white with all the soldiers. It’s really depressing and emotional because they all look really terrified and they’re walking through a sea of bodies, which, on the other hand, have no expressions at all.

  5. Wasn’t that woman who came to talk to Kirby recently about making movies making a movie about otto dix? She said something about how Otto Dix’s paintings at first appeared almost happy with its bright colors, but on second glance they were emotionally charged. I agree with that–I think the artist uses what should be normal scenes from life– like people walking on sidewalk, people dancing, or just a solitary figure, and distorts them to reflect the severity of the situation. I think people fight to hold on to traditional ways of life, and are sometimes willing to overlook the obviousness wrong of the world for promises of stability and prosperity.
    The art work that effected me the most was the painting at 0:46. It was done in all reds and blacks, which conveyed a kind of simple anger. When you looked closer, you could see that the man’s neck area was a gaping, dying bird. It was very angry, violent, disturbing painting, though at first glance it would only looking like a painting of a man.

  6. I did not like the art of Otto Dix. He chose dark subjects and made them slightly distorted and then made the subjects being tortured or dead. He did do a good job at painting in all sorts of styles – from what looked like a child’s painting left in the rain to a detailed sketch. Judging by what he painted, I would guess that Otto Dix thought a lot about abnormal people, dying people, and decaying people. Like I said, I do not like his art, but Otto Dix was definitely a talented artist. His art effected me in that I felt grossed out, and wondered what kind of person he was when he was alive. I also wonder if he was able to sell any art, because I don’t think you would want a hairy skull that is decomposing with worms and maggots wriggling in it to be hanging in your living room or in your bedroom.

    • He lived through a tragic time in Europe so he was expressing the horrors of war and their impact on soldiers and civilians. You are right, most people would not want it to hang in their homes but the work is an authentic expression of his time and place, a cultural artifact left by the artist to remind us of the costs of war. Maybe if more politicians saw art like this they would not jump so fast into war. It is hard to look at work like this….but for some it is cathartic.

  7. I thought Otto Dix’s paintings were pretty boring. The subject matter was interesting and his work was definitely a different way of looking at things, but his style wasn’t too impressive in a lot of his paintings/drawings. However I did like the painting of the women with the hat at 3:18. The simplicity of it and use of color I thought was a lot better than most of the other paintings.
    To convey a powerful message, I think an artist needs firstly, a message to convey. Dix obviously went through a lot during his life (living through the war) but there doesn’t seem to be a “message” as much as some way of depicting war without showing fighting/death or it being the prominent element in his work (with a few exceptions). If that makes any sense. I noticed though, that while watching the video I was trying to make sense of his paintings and understand what he was trying to convey and I couldn’t. Maybe it was because I’ve never lived through war and can’t comprehend how horrible it really is, but I feel like his paintings could almost symbolize how war is pretty much…nothing. There’s not much reason behind it, in the end it’s just killing people.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just going completely off topic.

  8. I loved Otto Dix’s work. I thought he had a very interesting way of distorting life, especially in his portraits. For me it was like I would see a normal man, and then glimpse his hands which are portrayed as grotesque and inhuman. I feel like by changing something physical to show a rotting or skeleton hand, he is commenting on how evil can be in the hands of anyone, and that war, the particular evil, is making them lose what is human about them. I was impressed with the range of styles that Otto Dix used, and I thought that changing the way he did art was very effective for his message. My least favorite painting was at 3:10, but I figured since it stood out to me the most, it affected me the most. It wasn’t that I didn’t like how he painted it or which colors he used, it was that this painting was very disturbing to me. I don’t have a clue what it represents, or why it’s the worst one for me, I was just weirded out by it. Anyways, not sure if I answered the questions well enough, but that’s what I thought. He’s really one of the first artists to make me feel something, whether I liked it or not.

  9. I really liked his style of painting. Some of his art seemed kind of scary and confusing to me, and others portrayed the devestation of war.

    I think that his most poweful tools to convey a message is his use of dark colors and the way that he distorts some parts of people such as their hands to make them look very mean and scary. Also some of his paintings really get your attention such as the painting with the soldiers on top of dead bodies.

    The painting that affected me the most was the one with soldiers wearing gas masks at 4:23. This one made me think about the use of chemical and biological warfare such as mustard gas and all the horrible things that happen during war.

  10. He combines the subject and style in a way that makes and image seem sort of terrible, which influences you on his views.

    The most important tool is distortion I think because it can bring your eye to focus on one part and can make some appealing and others grotesque.

    His painting with the landscape and the yellow sun reminds me of all the destruction of war.

  11. Using value contrast and ‘dark'(emotional) colors brought as much intensity to the brutality of war as the subject matter; then, the reasonable accurate portraits of various people versus the distorted portraits(for me, showing the shadow side of personalities) reminded me that he had training and was a talented artist using his skills to relate his viewpoint. He also used a variety of styles, even one that reminded me of Marc Chagall’s colors and fantasy compositions that I really like. Some of these portraits are beautiful; others very emotionally disturbing, creepy, scary, and from the dark side.

    The piece that most affected me was at 1:00 to 1:06; the one showing the (soldier’s) trench that receded into the never ending distance, primarily black and white, a drawing(?). For me it represented a “path” that could not be avoided – no choice but to experience it. My father and his 3 brothers as well as my mother’s 2 brothers served in WW!!. None of them would ever tell stories of what it was like for them even though they all survived physically to return to mothers, wives, and children; two were shot down over Europe but managed to return to England without being captured. Later, I had a cousin who was an interpreter in Vietnam; he had volunteered and still doesn’t talk about it. I had two close college ‘boy’ friends killed in that war and several others injured severely either mentally or physically. None of my family has had to serve in the Middle East conflict(except for my cousin’s daughter who serves with NATO as an interpreter in Afganistan after being in Iraq) but quite a few have served in the military during more peaceful years. I lived for a year in Germany and had the occasion to learn what it was like to live there during WWII…really scary stories for civilians as well as those who served in the military who made a point of trying to be sure they could surrender to anyone BUT the Russians. We in America are so lucky that we haven’t had a major war on our shores that involved invasion from a foreign power. I hope for “No More War” and Peace.

  12. How does he shape your response through subject and style?
    I think that he relied strongly on color and dark color schemes to portray the brutality of war. The way he used color to show the darkness war brings out was impressive. When I watched the video I noticed that he used many styles of painting that also showed the different situations of war. Even though these paintings were dark and depressing, they were also beautiful.

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    His most important tool he used in my opinion was color and shading. He used color and shading to depict the darkness that war causes.

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?
    The portrait of a young man (at 0:18) affected me the most. Not necessarily emotionally but I was just the most drawn to it. I was impressed with the colors. It also made me feel sad, but not in a bad way. I think the portrait shows how war can change an individual.

  13. (I accidentally found this video which is a commercial for beer, but the artist designed the symbol, and he has some pretty interesting designs,too.

    After watching the video, I figured mostly my focus are on the outline or shape that are on the drawing, instead of color. Different color scheme can shape a piece of work in many different ways.
    He mainly uses colors to convey his message: darker and more sophisticated color means angry, depress; brighter and warmer color shows a brisk tone, and imagination.

    I like 1:18 the most. The gradation and color scheme work really well together, the dreamy dark glowing affect impressed me.

  14. He shapes my response through the darkness, coloration, and shading as well as the sharp shapes. The paintings just look dark, dreary, and sad.
    He conveys a powerful message by boldly portraying the war in a negative light. The darkness and dreariness adds to this effect. Symbols of death and sadness are present in most of the works.
    The works which effected me the most are at 1:01 and 4:20. The one at 1:01 is of the trenches, but when I first saw it, it reminded me of the scene in Schindler’s List in which the incinerators near the gas chambers are running and you can see the smoke coming out of them and near them the Nazis are dumping piles of bodies into a trench. This is the same scene in which you see that the girl in the red dress is dead in a pile. I don’t have as much of an explanation for the piece at 4:20. The faces on the people and how their eyes are so empty and just blackness and their heads almost look like skulls symbolizes both death and I think the blankness of the eyes symbolize the lack of sympathy and carelessness. The gas masks add to the effectiveness of the peace as thinking of masses of people thinking their going to take showers and then ending up in gas chambers and dying is so cruel.

  15. Dix’s art is definitely not my style, but I think he’s extremely talented. His art has such a wide range that it seems like it’s from multiple artists and not just one. I like his art because it actually gives me emotion. Even paintings of people dancing had a darkness to them, from haunting colors to creepy people in the background. He is showing that even in the most joyous places, corruption is present. It’s a sad thought, but I think it’s a really interesting idea. I also like his art because it’s not just a painting of some pretty flowers. A lot of people probably don’t like his art because of this, but I don’t think all art has to be pleasant enough that we don’t even have to think about it. I’m bored of those “pretty”, forgettable paintings. His art is different, and that’s a good thing.

  16. Oh, and the work that affected me the most was the one at 3:39 with the people and the creepy masks in the background. I don’t know why, but this painting seemed like one of his creepiest, especially since there’s so many little things that take a while to notice, such as a little silhouette in the background that freaks me out to no end.

  17. My response is shaped strongly by the intense and dark colors he uses, as well as the tortured look of many of the subjects. Some of his paintings really show the depression of the war and convey that well. To convey a powerful message, it seems like he uses very intense colors and a mixture of harsh lines and more blurred lines. The woman at 3:19 was very interesting. She didn’t seem to have much of an expression, but still conveyed a look of sadness to me. I also really liked the dark reds and the use of black in the background.

  18. I would divide Otto Dix’s painting to two categories according his subjects. The first way was reimaging the war scene and the brutality in a direct way, the second way was reflecting the anti-war theme through people’s phycology in a subtle war. The first way was used by many painters, and I generally consider it as cliché. The second way, which dominated most of Dix’ painting, was more interesting and could have more interpretations. His main style, learning from Picasso’s work (my point of view), was very affecting revealing the war. He distorted and exaggerated people’s face, and through this technique, he achieved two goals: 1. to explore and reflect people’s emotion-anxiety, desperation, uncertainty, greed, hatred…it’s very humane approach to choose people as subjects, because no matter who won the war, the people were always victim of the war2. To show people that what the war is; war is reality or is not, war is confused, war has no morality, war is the most confused, disordered state…I don’t understand a lot of pieces, but I fully understand one piece, the piece that an emaciated woman dressed in a luxurious, silver night gown. It’s very sardonic to indicate that while country spends billions of money while their people suffered in hunger, and poverty. If a war is said to fight for the security and peace for people, why do the people suffer the most? I think a lot of people do not like the dark style he did, but just talking about how he can make you chill by his paintings, he definitely made it.

  19. Well, I am seriously lost. It’s hard for me to believe that all of those pieces were made by the same person.I felt as if I saw every style of painting. Because of that, responding to the paintings is very hard. However, I suppose from the inconsistency I can derive some sort of consistency. The biggest thing that stood out was that in nearly every single painting there was a human face with a distinct facial expression. That is a major tool that allows the viewer to feel more of what the subject is feeling. He also seems to use colors that are appropriately suited for what he’s painting. These are both tools and ways he affected me. My favorite piece was probably the skeleton one at 4:28. I think this one stood out to me because I just couldn’t figure out what the skeleton was up to and I like art that makes me think.

  20. How does he shape your response through subject and style?
    Whether his painting pertains to war or not he shapes the onlookers response by using colors to express the feeling. For example, in many of the painting that dealt with war he used dark grey and blacks to portray the “never ending” feeling of war.

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    Again, he one of his important techniques that he utilizes is dark color. He also can convey his message by distorting the figures.

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)
    The piece that affected me the most was the one with the distorted red woman(time was 3:11). This work actually “creeped” me out and made me not forget it.

    PS Barb and Susana, I went to the Art Show last Thursday and I took the pictures. Can I show them to you tomorrow? I don’t know how to put them on here.

  21. my response is shaped by him by the way he uses small amounts of abstract ideas, but generally guided by people’s expressions. he used the colors in the painting to portray the mood and sometimes the idea, and also uses objects in ways in the paintings that they usually would be like. i like the one with the doctor in his lab with all his instruments because of all the objects that it has and the doctors very strange expression.

  22. How does he shape your response through subject and style?

    He used overall, dark values and disturbing imagery to shape response

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?

    He can use his skills as an artist to intensify, or some would argue, properly express, the horrible things he painted.

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?

    The painting of the man at 1:43, for some reason, really seemed intense to me. The expression of shock on his face and the use of color were really great

  23. How does he shape your response through subject and style?
    His style was quite disturbing. His use for dark imagery, in conduction with the subject matter was very effective.
    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    His most important tool in my opinion, was the subject of the paintings. Without this, they would have meant nothing.
    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?
    The painting of the face that used a lot of red and black… I don’t recall exactly where it was, but it really stood out to me.

  24. His style was very harsh, and dark. It reminded me of Van Gogh’s starry night but much darker.
    His work also shows a lot of variations in style, some are sketches, some are realistic portraiture, and others are more abstract. It also shows a clear critiique of the culture of the Weimar Republic in the surrealist style. One work that really hit me was the one which showed crows taking flight from the snow, which really showed good motion.

  25. um he didn’t really shape anything in my response to his work, it was very powerful and dark yes, but some of them made no sense. i really liked his images of war and sadness but then there were ones that were completely random. the tools he uses i guess are dark bold colours. very deep dark lines too, he does that, especially on his war paintings. but he also picks very dark things to paint/draw which contributes to his awesomeness. the work that i liked was the skull with worms and stuff climbin out. that was pretty neat, i mean the detail of the skull and insects. usually people just draw a regular skull with nothing on it or around it, but Otto shows the disgusting realistic side of it,

  26. I like how at first his paintings look dark, but not ant-war, but when you look at them enough, you realize that they are. His most important tool was his color, because it makes it seem dismal. The painting at 1:51 affected me the most, because it shows the injuries of war.

  27. I really like Otto dix’s painting. his style of painting is really cool. Some of his art is kind of scary and too much dark. Some of art is confusing me but it also interesting.

    I like the painting with the soldiers on top of dead bodies, i think it was mainningful. Some of his painting is express kind of feel sad or about death. He did good about color which use much dark and have few light.

  28. It was quite interesting that I didn’t notice that his works were about war and what not until I actually looked more and more into the images. I think that the way he uses “extremes” really makes his works speak. For example, I like how although he uses his darkest dark, the subtle light tones are really what make the painting powerful. I also like how in some of his works he over sized the people–like the person crushing the entire city into ruins. I also think the use of abstract backgrounds in some of his pieces really pushes the focus to the subject, which in this case is quite scary. I also have to comment on the facial expressions of all the different people he painted..they all just seem to have such a deep expression. I think that is one way that he is successfully able to convey his message via his art work. Honestly, all of these works made me think. Like I know war is bad, but by looking at most of these works, I began feeling sad and angry. It’s really hard for me to pinpoint it on one specific image. All in all, I thought that these works were successful in convey the theme that Dix intended.

  29. His style is very twisted in many of his portrayals of individuals. For instance, in the black and white image of the skull, it is overgrown and infested, showing the aftermath of death. The most effective tool that he uses is the way that he fills the space. It creates the mood and sets the tone for his imagery. The piece that resonated most with me emotionally wast the little boy in the trench coat standing by a pillar. The darkness that shadows him is really powerful and overtakes his form, the darkness creeping around him every which way. The expression on the boys face sums up everything.

  30. I think the most powerful element of his style is how he captures the emotion in individuals’ expressions. He does this through strong shadings and stereotypically sad colors. To me, the more realistic pieces were more effective because they were more relatable.The comedy in the unrealistic pieces detracts from them in my opinion.

  31. How does he shape your response through subject and style?
    he can make you feel a certain way through how he paints a given work of art. if he wants us to feel sad he makes it semi blury and not bright.

    What are his most important tools as an artist to convey a powerful message?
    he most important tool is his ability to convey feeling. on one of the people early int he montage it made me quite sad and i felt for the feller, he just looked like he had gone through more pain and suffereing than anyone should ever have to go through and that he had just completely given up on life, which takes alot to get a person to that place

    What work most affected you (intellectually and/or emotionally)?
    the one i stated above, i felt for the character because he looked like he had gone through hell and wished he was dead, but was forced to stay on this earth

  32. This guy doesn’t paint objectively. I think that’s what makes his work so effective. You see his opinions represented in a very raw, visceral way. This in turn elicits a similar response from you. He presents what he thinks without holding back or changing it to make it more acceptable to society. The piece that affected me most because of this was the skull with worms crawling all over it. It makes me feel slightly sick.

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