The seedy underworld of Berlin in the 1920s may have been brought to the big screen with the Oscar-winning movie "Cabaret," but the blueprint for its depiction of Weimar Germany's red-light underbelly was first created by German painter Otto Dix.
His merciless pictures depicted war, bourgeois society and the bleaker side of urban life, including sexual violence and prostitution. Dix's experiences in World War I made him a ruthless realist. But he was best known for his impressionist portraits, which attempted to get under the skin of the sitter rather than merely reproduce an exact likeness.
He was influenced by Dada and became a leading member of the Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity movement, along with Georg Grosz and Max Beckmann.
Predictably, his scathing and often grotesque art did not appeal to the Nazis. When they came to power in 1933, Dix was labelled a "degenerate" artist and lost his teaching job.
Now the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, southern Germany, which has one of the biggest collections of Dix's work, has organized a comprehensive exhibition of 65 of his portraits, many on loan from other galleries.
The exhibition, entitled "Match: Otto Dix and the Art of Portraiture," will also show 88 portraits by other artists spanning the centuries, from Lucas Cranach and Andy Warhol. "It is only by seeing his works alongside the works of other artists that the timeless importance of Otto Dix the portraitist becomes clear," the exhibition curator Daniel Spanke told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The show starts on Dec. 1 and runs through to April 6, 2008.
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