Memorial Day blog Art 1 – Due 5/28

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

How does he use art techniques to affect you, the viewer? Consider both his use of style as well as his choice of subject.

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

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

Art 1,  do an hour sketchbook Memorial Day drawing or collage and mixed media.

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.”

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23 responses »

  1. Dix uses dark and slightly gruesome images to protest war. You may expect more peaceful images for the messages he is conveying, but his paintings show the real side of war. I like his variation in style. Some pictures are black and white, some are really detailed, some are blurry, and some are distorted and almost cartoon-like. His picture of the sun coming through rain clouds and shining over a grey city impacted me the most because the contrast in color seemed to convey the natural ways of our universe vs. our often corrupt human tendencies.

  2. Dix’s paintings are very intense. They are bold and make a statement. He makes use of dark, rich colors, causing his paintings to be very powerful. Many of the people in his works have very serious or angry or sorrowful expressions. Looking at these people really moves you as a viewer, because you begin to feel what they are feeling. The piece that affected me most was the second one of the boy looking right at you, because you could tell just from his eyes how much the war had impacted his life. How much he had lost to the war. It’s one of Dix’s more simple paintings, but it has so much meaning and depth just hidden in the boy’s face.

  3. All right, its rant time.
    I do not like this Blog post. I think it is untimely and disrespectful. I completely understand the use of an antiwar message in art. I believe that war is generally bad and that peace is the ideal. However this is Memorial Day. It is today that we, as a people, remember the sacrifices of those lost in war and acknowledge that there sacrifice was not pointless. As Abraham Lincoln put it “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” In short, today is the day where we acknowledge those brave men and women who perished in the line of duty to protect us and our country. A country that, despite all its problems, I believe was founded on a principle that is right, the idea of government by the people for the people. The idea of equality, the idea that it doesn’t matter what your race or creed or sex or religion is, for you are a human being are endowed with as the constitution puts it “certain inalienable rights,” the rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In English class we recently had a discussion about the American dream. I believe that the American dream is this: That no matter from where you came from, from what social strata, no matter who your ancestors were, you can become something here. You can raise yourself up with nothing more than the sharpness of your mind or the might of your labor or most importantly the persistence of your determination. Here you can truly be anything you want to be as long as you work hard enough. This is the dream that caused and still causes millions of immigrants to flock to America in search of a new life. This dream is what caused the words “give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” to be carved onto the Statue of Liberty. Finally, this is the dream that, when necessity and duty have called, in our country’s darkest hours, in the depths of World War two when fascism and the absolute dictatorship of the Nazi’s and Imperial Japan seemed to be an unstoppable force, in the midst of the Civil War when the forces of tyranny and oppression seemed to be capable of tearing apart this union, or now when terrorists are willing to kill innocent civilian men women and children just to make some stupid point, whenever in short it seemed as if this small flame, this candle in the wind called the American experiment seems to be at last guttering and ready to go out, it is this dream that brought forth the legions of brave men and women ready and willing to fight and die for the opportunity of futer generations to live and experience this dream. I realize and am fully aware of the fact that this dream is not yet a reality. I realize that as we make our way into the twenty first century, that problems continue to loom up at us and that overcoming them may seem impossible. However I just as fervently believe that this country and the democracy and ideals first laid down by the founding fathers and edited and improved on by every generation up to the present, yes I believe these ideas are worth fighting for so that they may continue to grow and be improved on until they finally become a reality. I believe today, as the day we honor those who came before us, the ones who were willing to fight and die for the privileges we take for granted, should not be a day that we mock and downplay their actions as pointless. Today should not be a day that we spit on the brave actions of our predecessors and condemn their actions as pointless violence. Because sometimes, in this crazy and scary place called planet earth, people have to fight for their rights. In an ideal world people would not have to, however this is not an ideal world. To dehumanize and shame the soldiers who died so we could have the rights which we take for granted on the very day we should be acknowledging there sacrifice is downright disrespectful and wrong…However I do agree with the overall message. War hurts everyone involved and I think that Dix’s art really helps to point out this fact. His art really hits you on a deep,psychological level with gory and depressing pictures of dead bodies and destroyed battle fields. It really makes you feel sad that things like this happen. Like Fat Cats Eat Bacon, I think his use of dark colors make a dreary and melancholy kind of feel that is very good at showing how depressing war is. I especially liked the painting at 7:15. It shows a battlefield strewn with the dead bodies of solders in a WW1 type setting. It really is a combination of all the things that make Dix’s art so good at conveying messages, both the subject and the colors are depressing, which is a good representation of what war is actually like.

    So really I do think the anti war message is right. It’s just that having a blog post about art that is basically saying that the sacrifices of the people who died in wars was totally pointless (which I don’t think is true) while at the same time dehumanizing those solders (which isn’t very respectful) on the very day dedicated to respecting and acknowledging those self same solders rubs me the wrong way.

  4. First of all, in response to Nathan: I don’t think featuring an artist, who is portraying the difficulties and the hurt that war causes in many different people, on memorial day is at all disrespectful. There’s not a lot of judgement or anger towards the military, or those who are fighting for us in his artwork. It’s more of a mourning, which is exactly what we’re doing this weekend. Almost all of his artwork is featuring the people who have been effected by the war. It’s not disrespectful at all.
    Anyways, to answer the first question: It was pretty depressing. All of his paintings are very dramatic and grim, he even manages to make the couple dancing look lifeless. The emphasis on his subject matter, which is people, makes you curious to know if they’re real or not, and what their story is. The most important tools an artist can use to convey a message, is whatever gets the viewer to feel the emotion they want to invoke, or even better, to think. If you can get someone to look at your art and be inspired by the message you want them to think about-then your sparking a flame that coud potentially do so much more. There wasn’t a particular work that effected me more than any others I think.

  5. Dix’s art pieces are very intense. You can tell that he is really trying to get his message across to people. He wants them to understand things how he does. Most of his paintings are very dark but do have some color. The color most times is washed down so that it isn’t very bright. The most important tools as an artist for conveying a message is to know your message and know where you are going with it. Sometimes you many have a message but you don’t really know what to do with it. That can cause a painting to be very confusing to the viewer. Dix does a great job of conveying his message. Everyone knows exactly what he is trying to say. Also the artist has to be able to take their message and put it into paint for. Sometimes you may have a message but can’t paint it. This is like writers block you get stuck. When you get stuck you try to work on another piece to see if you get any inspiration. There wasn’t really one that effected me the most but if I had to choose I would choose the painting with the houses and the moon. Everything is very dark but it makes you think about his message because somethings are very dark and hard to see. But I think that is part of Dix’s style. This are dark and you have to look close so you can see the light.

  6. I found his portrayal of 1950’s women very interesting. I just saw the Great Gatsby and the thing that stood out to me the most was how the women really didn’t have any power and they were basically at the mercy of their husbands. I found that this artist definitely portrays how women were thought of back then. An example of this portrayal is the painting of the women in the corset and bloomers at 2:48. In addition to the commentary on women’s role in society I found the painting at 3:31 of the man with the women’s body very interesting. Dix may have drawn this to expose the extremely strict gender roles in 50’s society. Women had to be sex objects and men had to be very masculine and never be at all feminine.
    Dix tends to paint very contorted faces with very ridged lines to get his point across, whether his message is gender roles of the horrors of war. Many of his faces show depression and sadness and he tends to paint very gnarled hands. He uses dark colors, though doe of his painting incorporate lighter colors as highlights. None of the people he paints are smiling.
    His depictions of war are mostly sketches(in charcoal?) they are all very messy and definitely horrific. He seems to capture the insanity in humanity in every one of his works.
    My favorite of his works were his more realistic sketches and line drawings, though most of his works are creepy.

    • And, I don’t think that most of his drawing s had anything to do with war. Most of them were commentary on 1950’s(or around that time period) society. There were only a few works that had anything to do with war.

  7. Dix uses very dark and gray colors in his painting, they put the overall tone in a sad or even desperate emotion. I found that Dix’s portraits of people are in a realistic style, and you can see the people’s tiredness and gloomy emotion from the shadow and wrinkle of face. For Dix’s painting in abstract style, Dix can express in a inflated way. In some war paintings, Dix depicts the casualty of war, craziness on people’s face… which appeal to us by exaggerated image. I think Dix’s most important skills to convey a message is the style of people in his painting. We can identified those people’s identity from their clothing; we can understand their situation or emotion by looking at their face, which are usually grandiloquent. My favorite drawing is the one that contains four officers who are suffered from amputation. However, they don’t look sad or depressed. Instead, I can see the ruthlessness of war in the officers’ face.

  8. Like FiddleGirl, to me, most of his paintings seem not to be about war, but to be a commentary on the rigid expectations of the 1940s and 1950s. There are some horrific battle scenes, but not many.
    Dix’s style is very intense, with muted or dark colors and distorted subjects. His paintings are stark, and some are surprising, especially in the context of the forties and fifties.

  9. Dix uses abstraction and a dark color pallet to shock and pull-in the viewer. The overall tone varies from Gothic to cartoonish, but never faling to paint the subject in a harsh light (metaphorically). His most useful tool in conveying his message is exaggeration (or presenting the truth underneath the reality) in order to critique war and german society.

    The piece which impacted me the most was one of the last ones in the video. It depicts a battlefield riddled with broken shrubbery, scraps of cloth, and pits of stinking water. In the foreground is german soldier, dead at his post. The piece conveys effectively the brutality of war – and it’s consequences.

  10. Dix uses dark colors and distorted figures in order to depict the horrors of war. He uses gruesome imagery and horrific scenes to convey an image of terror in order to convince the viewer that war is a bad thing.

    I think the most important thing for an artist to do in order to convey a powerful message is to make an appeal to the emotion and ethics of the viewer, especially by considering one’s target audience. For Dix, this was to tug at the heartstrings of the mass populous with sad and scary scenes.

    The piece that affected me the most was the one at 1:00 in the video. The bleakness of the scene and the complete absence of life made the painting especially eerie.

  11. It seems like Dix was quite a prolific artist and made many different pieces that were all unique, but one commonality they all shared was how gloomy they were. The pieces range from somewhat abstract to pretty realistic, but most are in the middle of the spectrum. Some of the images were strange, but overall, I feel like he just painted things the way they were. He seemed ahead of his time with the way in which he portrayed images and their underlying meanings, hidden corruptions, and the dark side everything has.

    A lot of the objects he paints or draws are pretty gruesome. I don’t think I saw a single person smiling in his artwork. Also, all his pieces are very dark and don’t have many bright or cheerful colors.

  12. Dix’s paintings are very intense. They are bold and make a statement. He makes use of dark, rich colors, causing his paintings to be very powerful. Many of the people in his works have very serious or angry or sorrowful expressions. I think the most important thing for an artist to do in order to convey a powerful message is to make an appeal to the emotion and ethics of the viewer, especially by considering one’s target audience. For Dix, this was to tug at the heartstrings of the mass populous with sad and scary scenes.My favorite drawing is the one that contains four officers who are suffered from amputation. However, they don’t look sad or depressed. Instead, I can see the ruthlessness of war in the officers’ face.

  13. What sticks out first in Dix’s paintings is his focus on the eyes. They are detailed richly with heavy bags and strong outlines that give many of the figures a distantly malicious look. The way Dix takes normal subject matter and twists them creates a uniquely dark effect. My favorite painting was the of the man right in the beginning, mainly because of the way Dix made this dude look ghoulish in contrast to those very lively eyes.

  14. I think that Dix’s paintings had less to do with the protest of war and more to do with the protest of things that were happening in that time period in general. The majority of the paintings in the video didn’t even feature anything that looked like war, just people with sad or horrified expression. The way that he used heavy, dark, bold lines made them impossible to forget and left them imprinted on your eye even when you blink. I think he did that so there was no avoiding the truth behind them when you looked at them. It was very powerful and very intense and sort of creepy. He’s able to make you know what a person is feeling or the emotion he’s trying to make that person convey with very little detail, just artful use of color.

  15. Something I noticed almost immediately is that there were no happy paintings. There were a lot of gross exaggerations and shadowy places. To me, it seemed like it was less a protest of war than a protest of society as a whole. There were definitely a lot of paintings that were directly anti war but there were also quite a few of regular people who all seemed to have something weirdly wrong with them. There were what looked like prostitutes (they could have been exaggerations of contemporary fashion, I don’t know) and some strange clown things. I couldn’t really see the connection between those paintings and anti-war art. Anyway, it’s all kind of creepy and depressing. The empty battlefield paintings always get to me. I don’t know exactly what it is or why but they are always the ones I remember.

  16. Dix uses graphic and dark imagery when depicting the horrors of warfare. Personally, I find this style truthful, not offensive. In response to Frodude, I find this work to be not a critique on those who participate or are affected by warfare, but rather a critique on the institution of the military itself. Dix’s artwork mourns the loss of soldiers and civilians and comments on the devastation war causes.
    Dix uses exaggerated expressions and sharp contrast in black and white to convey his messages. The image at 4:19 affected me the most because of the haunting portrayal of soldiers in gas masks/

  17. I actually really like his art. He uses dark and intense colors.. One could consider some of his art so be creepy, I just think that I has a lot of meaning and is very beautiful. Nothing is just one picture–there are several differnet pictures inside each one, which means that each viewer can have a different meaning for the painting (depending on what your mind sees first)… And they all present a message that can be a very personal or important message if you look close enough. It is hard for me to choose one single work that affected me (because many of them did) but I guess I could say the one at 4:35 because it is representing a humans mind and/or different personas/moods… It is also simply a beautiful piece of art, but it also has a story behind it–as does most of his other work.

  18. Dix uses super dark colors and images when he depicts war. I thought it was interesting how a lot of his subjects seemed to be just normal people, nothing that particularly alluded to war. I guess he maybe used these subjects to show that war was negatively affecting even those people that had very little to do with it.
    I think one of his most important tools as an artist that he uses to convey a message is his use of color: it really draws the eye to the important things and uses colors like red in a subliminal kind of way, relating it to blood.
    I liked his painting of the woman in the red hat at 3:20 in the video because I think the viewer is reminded of a woman in mourning, with the dark colors and sad expressions, but then the bright red hat kind of throws you off.

  19. Dix shows the horrors of war through symbolism and dark colors brightened with the color red which represents blood. In the modern day media, war is often glorified, seen as a heroic and entertaining experience for all to view and experience. His paintings show distorted faces of those disfigured by war either physically or mentally. Images of skulls and the aftermath of battlefields fill the video above. What is most interesting is that it uses shock to draw in its viewers in a positive manner. Most art, when using shock as a primary factor in their art, end up simply dragging viewers away rather than into the painting. In this case, it drags us into the painting and the horrors that war and violence have done and makes it impossible for us to look away.

    I found the painting at 3:36 the most jarring, simply because of the disfigurement of the men that I presume to represent soldiers. Their faces are crooked and distorted, and behind them is a pale violet devil that perhaps represents sickness or war. It watches over the men, reminding them of the horrific sights and sounds of war with pale golden eyes. All of them appear saddened, or at least shell-shocked, by what they have experienced. It was jarring and effective and Dix’s effort on their faces went not into beauty but into making their faces different and interesting. It shows that war never leaves us and that a perfect, peaceful world will never be re-obtained, but rather replicated.

  20. I really like DIx’s arts, although it’s pretty scary… In my view, he is really good at using various colors in order to create the atmosphere and feeling he wants. For the background, it’s always dark tone and has some scary faces or eyes behead. What’s more, Dlx also focuses on the people’s facial express in his paintings. The characters always have weird and awkward express. In order to show the emotion, he always does dark on character’s eyes or the eyes below. However, there is one painting that is a woman with the red below the eyes. This example shows us that not only black can represent scary feeling. Besides, for the inward side, i think he wants to transmit us the message that war is cruel, the ruthlessness of the official and also the sadness and worries of folks.

  21. I really enjoy his art. I don’t think his intention is to directly effect the viewer, but to make something that could, as in making a bold statement but also simply depicting the emotions and realities behind his subject matter, whether they’re an aging bourgeoisie couple in the midst of trying to stay young in caked on makeup and high fashion, or a group of people facing the firing squad. Effecting the viewer isn’t in the process or intention, but to me it seems that in properly depicting the emotion and implications behind his subject matter, the viewer is left effected. The end result and its reality are what hit home, all Otto has to do is depict it properly. Rich colors, smoke, swirling, and deep shades of maroon and burgundy with other bold, pastel, and usually warm colors bring about a certain blood-metal, warm, and kind of overindulgent feeling about it.

    I think that the image or end result is the most someone can do to convey a powerful message. Straightforwardness and accuracy is usually key. A degree of emotion is also helpful.

    At 6:12, there’s an image of a soldier with greying hairs, and a worn face, entering a club full of drunken dancers, who seem to be unaware. It tells a story. I could imagine is a young man returning from a war, with seemingly fresh injuries, to where he probably went to have fun and socialize in his younger days. Now he’s older mentally, crippled, and is on the outside of and no longer acknowledged by the daze of those around him, something he used to very much be a part of. There’s a sense of loneliness, naivety, and anger in the personal experience of someone returning from a war to a world seemingly unchanged, though he has.

  22. From what I can see Dix’s paintings seem to exude a feeling of the onlooker’s perspective in war, not really excitement or valor, but more of a somber hurt, the feeling that someone you know or love might be killed today, and the secret fear that something might happen to you and your family with you. He also conveys and anti war message, which while seeming silly politically because war is a necessary thing in many circumstances, it is never necessary for civilians to witness or experience the face of war when said experiences can be prevented. The tecniques he used to convey certain emotions were really fascinating, the colors he used were often very bright and conflicting, not smooth, mainly hot colors. He also went between using hyper realism and completely abstract art.
    The piece at 6:38 evoked a lot of emotion because it showed the true realism of war.

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