Friday, July 24, 2009
Myself as Otto Dix
Melissa Weimer, 2009 Myself as Otto Dix
Otto Dix was a promising and solicitous young painter at the turn of the last century. He painted this self-portrait as a young man of 21, while attending the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.
The work shows a skeptical young man on the cusp. His gaze toward the future is leery and determined. Yet, he shows himself holding a flower, a sign of hope and optimism. His grasp is light and awkward.
Barely two years later, he was an enlisted soldier. Dix’s experiences in WWI, where he was stationed on the Western Front and seriously wounded several times, and WWII, where he was persecuted by the Nazis and held as a POW for some time, directed his imagery for the rest of his life. His work was critical of the Weimar Republic’s bourgeois class. He hideously depicted the atrocities of war and drew attention to the darker side of life, unsparingly depicting prostitution, violence, old age, and death.
My own personal ancestry is tied to this same land. My last name being a common Americanization of Weimar, spelled W-E-I-M-E-R.
How could Otto Dix have known the horrors that lie ahead for him as a 21-year-old man? Yet his expression seems to tell us that he does. This remake of his portrait is my homage to his life and work, and also, to the cautious optimism that he displays on the verge of the rest of his life. Looking forward to future unknowns.