Die Sappenposten haben nachts das Feuer zu unterhalten [At night the men in the trenches have to keep firing]

Unit German Army
Place Europe: France
Accession Number ART50159
Collection type Art
Measurement plate: 24.5 x 29.5 cm; sheet: 36.8 x 52.5 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


This image is plate 48 from the portfolio of 50 etchings comprising the series 'Der Krieg (The War)' published by Karl Nierendorf in 1924. 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 and 1924. Two soldiers (viewed from behind) stand in a trench, with their guns ready, looking out over a churned landscape. There is a three-quarters moon in the sky. A skull and the bodies of other soldiers merge into the landscape in the foreground. The blind stamp and the inscription indicate that this print comes from the second edition, published by Otto Dix in 1961. 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 equalling 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.