This book is the catalogue for the Dix exhibition currently held at the Neue Galerie in NYC, which will later travel to Montreal, Canada and which is the first one dedicated to this major artist in North America. Without being a comprehensive Dix retrospective (a fact which is readily acknowledged by the authors)since it concentrates on a 20-year timespan (1919-1939), it is a high-quality publication with top-class illustrations and a very interesting text that tends to divide Dix's works into four areas, the images of war (Dix is frequently compared to the great Goya in this respect), the portraits, the representation of sexuality and Dix's production during the Third Reich, a production all the more moving as Dix was one of the few German artists of the Weimar avant-garde who had chosen to remain in Germany after 1933, even though he obviously was an opponent of the Nazi regime. The low-key landscapes which he painted during that period are metaphoric criticisms of totalitarianism, and this is very well shown in the book.
There are several groundbreaking essays in this book and anyone interested in the New Objectivity movement of the 1920's in Germany should read the last one, which dwells on Dix's 1928 masterpiece "Metropolis" (now in Stuttgart)and analyses the artist's ability to represent the ugly "not as a symptom of a hopeless pessimism, but rather as an indication of the will to power of the artist (who) heroically said yes to brutal life in an art of the sweetest cruelty" (those last two words coming from a text by Nietzsche, whose philosophy was one of the main sources of inspiration for Otto Dix). Another essay studies the theme of sexual murder, a theme that is recurrent in Dix's art (especially in two missing masterpieces that disappeared during WWII), in German and Austrian art and literature in general (Grosz, Beckmann, Musil...).