Sturmtruppe geht unter gas vor [Storm troopers advancing under a gas attack]

Unit German Army
Place Europe: France
Accession Number ART50157
Collection type Art
Measurement plate: 19.4 x 29 cm; sheet: 35.4 x 47.7 cm
Object type Print
Physical description etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper
Maker Dix, Otto
Place made Germany
Date made 1924
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Unlicensed copyright


The image is plate 12 from the series 'Der Krieg (The War)', portfolio II, published by Karl Nierendorf. The series consists of fifty images assembled in five consecutive portfolios of ten plates each (generally inscribed in the margin in pencil, I to X). It constitutes, along with his 1920-23 painting 'Der Schutzengraben (Trenches destroyed)', the first summation of his military experiences in the war. Dix did not determine the full size of the cycle until he was in the midst of its execution and produced the portfolio in three working periods while in the Black Forest and in St Goar am Rhein between 1923 ands 1924. 'Sturmtruppe geht unter gas vor' shows three German soldiers wearing gas masks and helmets storm the enemy in France. They raise their arms, one to throw a grenade. This profoundly graphic image shows the German soldiers as almost inhuman in their gas masks. Dix wrote: "The war was a horrible thing, but there was something tremendous about it, too. I didn't want to miss it at any price. You have to see human beings in this unleashed state to know what human nature is." Dix achieved a superb mastery of the techniques of etching, his works equaling those of such great masters as Rembrandt and Goya. Strongly influenced by Goya's war etchings, Dix's 'Der Krieg' was published in five portfolios, each containing ten prints. The series was widely exhibited, and Dix received considerable critical acclaim.