dix & the creative curse: if hollywood say so its O.K.

The idea was to find an idiom that best suited him to criticize the society he found himself: essentially, a capitalist bourgeois Germany. After returning from the front, he passed through the expressionist, futurist and dada schools before settling on what would be termed the new objectivity, which parsed the Ashcan school in America and classic old master art to arrive to form of  elasticism that was content driven in an old/new narrative form. Dix’s underlining thesis was that the pursuit of the novelty of expression -creative form- is not feasible or viable as an aim in itself, which was itself the antithesis of the emerging entertainment and film business where market forces dictated the trivializing and neutering of critical content into an easily peddled objectification and commodity. It was a “radical traditionalist” which was neither paradox nor contradiction….

Dix. Three Prostitutes on the Street.1925. Read More: http://darkclassics.blogspot.com/2010/12/otto-dix-three-prostitutes-on-street.html

The capturing of very precise minute details was drawn from the likes of Hans Memling and Van Eyck and the northern renaissance tradition of Albrecht Durer. The twist with Dix was his avoidance of the harmony that had been established of the human form. There was an anti-Italian bias he started that inverted the Botticelli/da Vinci/Giotto tradition and placed it within the school of German realism:

"It was, however, from the mid-1920s that his interest in learning and applying the techniques of the great Renaissance artists became a true obsession. Dix’s paintings reveal not only stylistic analogies and similar iconographic and compositional models, but also a use of the same technical procedures. His preparatory drawings and cartoons, his way of preparing the panel and the revival of the old “mixed” technique of the German masters are the elements that allowed the artist to reach the highest level of objectivity and to expose his sitters beyond mere external appearance. By 1926, the year in which Erfurth commissioned his portrait with his dog, Dix had become a true Old Master of modern art with a perfect command of the techniques of his artistic ancestors. " read more: http://www.museothyssen.org/microsites/otto_dix/maestros_ing.html

” Where Dürer tried to reconcile Italian idealism and Northern empiricism, making classically proportioned figures that looked like real people, Dix didn’t even bother: his figures are invariably ill-proportioned and oddly off-balance — stably unstable, one might say. Many of his thin Venuses (perhaps most noteworthily Venus with Gloves (1932) owe a conspicuous debt to Cranach’s — ironically update them, as it were — and many of his landscapes are indebted to Danube School landscapes, in particular but not exclusively those of Altdorfer.” Read More: http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp

Otto Dix: “In recent years, one catchphrase has motivated the present generation of creative artists. it urges them to “Find new forms of expression!” I very much doubt, however, whether such a thing is possible. Anyone who looks at the paintings of the Old Masters, or immerses himself in the study of their works, will surely agree with me….

---Dix avoids questions of form, but rather looks to art as a way of revealing new objects in the world. For Dix, effective art uses conventions of self-expression as a way to examine objects not previously seen, the expansion of critical examination through art onto new issues. Art is a space of revelation to the world, rather than personal exploration/introspection – the “object is primary” potentially means that what is seen by the viewing public is primary to what the author tries to see.---Read More: http://artisticactivism.org/dix-the-object-is-primary/ image: http://www.friendsofart.net/en/art/otto-dix/nude-girl-on-a-fur

…As I see it, at any rate, the new element in painting lies in the extension of its subject area, an enhancement of those forms of expression already present in essence in the Old Masters. Tor me, the object is primary and determines the form. I have therefore always felt it vital to get as close as possible to the thing I see. ‘What’ matters more to me than ‘How’. Indeed, ‘How’ arises from ‘What’.”( 1927)  Read More: http://artisticactivism.org/dix-the-object-is-primary/

What Hollywood accomplished  with Dix’s   figures : A  banalization,  his succint individualized, risque figures into glossy, smooth, emotional frozen and, marketable stereotypes is what it does best. In Dix’s case  to transform  Weimar Germany into Walt Disney general admission.The content is diluted and we are left with empty form. The miracle of market based normative democracy’s cultural industries  is to arrive at a parallel end of the Third Reich by more subtle means.

Mark Vallen : Grosz detested the bourgeoisie of Germany, and continually attacked and mocked them with his caustic pen drawings. With exacting skill Grosz documented 1920's Germany and the rise of fascism, until he was forced into exile by the Hitler regime. Grosz's painting at left, Stutzen der Gesellschaft (Pillars of Society), is a deeply sarcastic portrait of the German elites who supported fascism. Pictured front and center is a Nazi holding a beer mug and a sword, behind this figure sit two members of the bourgeoisie, one holding a blood stained palm leaf and the other's head opened to expose a steaming pile of excrement. A pompous pro-Nazi priest stands in the background... blessing the murderous actions of the army. By the time Grosz had painted this work in 1926, he had already created many vitriolic denunciations of the ruling class. read more: http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Express/ex10.htm

Old Master art was harder to turn into entertainment than modern art, which often seemed like amateur theater, which is why Dix used Old Master art as a mold to contain the entertaining world of sex and suffering — the world of the Berlin clubs and streets —

new firsthand. His art is a brilliant dialectical union of calm and collected — sane — Old Master art and violent and and chaotic — insane — modern reality.Avant-garde art ages rapidly, while Old Master art is ageless. Old Master art shows that content matters as much as form.Read More: http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp

Commercialism, however, will always pull against traditional art, though it knows full well that the traditional and classic is more difficult to convert into entertainment and product, and does not hold the necessary obsolescence: the modern, the avant-garde and the contemporary, by nature flimsier, shoddier produced and without any meaningful human and aesthetic value will always be promoted. Form without content is required. marketing is the content. “It only had credibility and value as part of the historical record, that is, as period art and a symptom of the destructiveness of the modern Zeitgeist, whatever its technological prowess, evident in its war machines, including Dix’s machine gun.” ( Kuspit)

Christian Schad, Count St. Genois d'Anneaucourt (1927) read more: http://www.mariabuszek.com/kcai/Expressionism/new2_gallery.htm

Stuart Elliott: ABC has sold all the commercial time available during the show, at an estimated price of $1.7 million for each 30-second spot. That was an increase from the rates of $1.3 million to $1.5 million for the Oscars in 2009 and 2010, when the economy damped demand, but lower than the $1.8 million that ABC charged in 2008, before the financial crisis.

The Academy Awards represents “a perfect fit for what we’re trying to communicate,” said Rob Candelino, marketing director for the Dove brand in the United States, which is sold by Unilever. Dove will run two commercials for a new product, Dove VisibleCare Crème Body Wash, and promote a contest, the Dove Close-Up Challenge, that will offer the winner a chance to perform during a commercial break in another big event TV show on ABC: the season finale of “Dancing With the Stars,” on May 23.Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/business/media/24adco.html?_r=1&ref=stuartelliott a

John Heartfield. Millions Stand Behind. 1932. Read More: http://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/7607

One of the most insidious examples of distortion is the King’s Speech for nest film, where the content has no value. A whitewash of nazi sympathizing imbeciles, what Monty Python would call upper class twits. Similar to turning the Berlin of Dix and Grosz into historical fantasy through “Cabaret” we have in this film almost pure propaganda:

Christopher Hitchens: I accused him of deliberately omitting the fact (suppressio veri, or withholding the truth) even as he strongly implied that Churchill’s loyalty was to the babbling Bertie, which constitutes suggestio falsi, or the insinuation of untruth. He now tells us that a scene in which Churchill supported the pro-Nazi princeling “David” was cut from the final version, allegedly because it “sagged.” Well, why not craft a scene -illustrating the far more fascinating truth of the matter -that does not sag?

John Heartfield. Read More: http://johnheartfield.tumblr.com/post/246449996/aiz-cover-designed-by-john-heartfield-c-1934

Perhaps admitting more than he should, Seidler adds that the decision of the royal physicians to euthanize the dying King George V (by means of an injection of morphine and cocaine, designed to ensure that the timing of the announcement would favor the extreme-right The Times of London) was also removed from the film. Did that not-uninteresting detail also sag in the telling? Or would its inclusion, along with the accurate Churchill scene, have made it harder to sustain the uncritical and anti-historical reverence for the palace and for Churchill that the whole movie seems designed to perpetuate?

By a similar mixture of suppressio veri and suggestio falsi, The King’s Speech also partwhitewashes and part-airbrushes the consistent support of Buckingham Palace for Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain and their unceasing attempt to make an agreement with Hitler that would allow him a free hand in Europe while preserving the British Empire. Read More:http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/screenwriter+Propagandist/4344363/story.html

While Dix was gaining recognition, his work was also coming under attack. “The Trench”, which was purchased by for the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne was perceived “anti-military” and the museum returned the painting. As well, Dix was accused of pornography after exhibiting his “Girl Before Mirror, of an aging prostitute. He was acquitted but right-winged political organizations continued to link him with left-wing plots to undermine German morality.

Dix. Franz Radziwill. 1928. Der Sturmer. degenerate art guide 1938:Constrained reality is split up and broken open to become a vessel for his accumulated burning sensual passion, which, once inflamed, is oblivious of all psychic depths and bursts out -- consuming, expanding, copulating with all its parts. There exist for him no resistance and no preordained limits. -- Contemporary literary drivel on such formerly modern brothel art. read more: http://der-stuermer.org/kunst/kunst.html image: http://weimarart.blogspot.com/2010/06/franz-radziwill.html

Dix moved to Düsseldorf in 1922 and married Martha Koch. Themes in his work were less political and he created a series of watercolours that depicted violent and/or morbid erotic subject matter. Dix also became favoured as a portrait painter of Germany’s theatrical and literary groups and their patrons. Read More: http://www.dailyartfixx.com/2010/12/02/otto-dix-1891-1969/

“While continuing to paint portraits and nudes, Dix injected an increasingly pessimistic and allegorical content into his work during the early 1930s. Nudes emerged as witches or personifications of melancholy”

After the Nazi election in 1933, Dix was stripped of his teaching position and all honours on the grounds that his paintings included morally offensive works that were “likely to adversely affect the military will of the German people”. He was forbidden to exhibit, and his work was confiscated from German museums to feature in various exhibitions of entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). Read More: http://www.dailyartfixx.com/2010/12/02/otto-dix-1891-1969/

Hitchens: In giving this recent interview, then, David Seidler has gone far beyond the original misrepresentation and falsification that lie at the heart of the film and has become a propagandist for the Munich faction. As I wrote originally, The King’s Speech is an excellently made movie that features generally first-rate acting. Oscars should go to those who entertain and amuse. But if the academy gives an award to Seidler, a man who absurdly fancies himself subject to persecution when confronted with the historical record, it will have conferred approval on something, and someone, extremely shabby.Read More: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/screenwriter+Propagandist/4344363/story.html


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