Transplantation [Skin graft]

Unit Medical, Dental and Nursing
Place Europe: Germany
Accession Number ART50209
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 479 mm x 369 mm; sheet: 47.9 x 35.7 cm
Object type Print
Physical description etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper
Location Main Bld: Special Exhibition Space
Maker Dix, Otto
Place made Germany
Date made 1924
Conflict Period 1920-1929
First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Unlicensed copyright


This is plate 40 from portfolio IV in 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. The imager shows a head and shoulder portrait of a man with the left side of his face destroyed, a patient who has received a skin graft after severe facial injuries. He wears striped pyjamas, and there is a hospital bed-head behind him. There were four states of this print. The inscription 'IV/10' and the light tone of the aquatint, suggest that this print is from the fourth state. However, the sheet does not bear the Bodensee-Verlkag Amriswil blind stamp and is not inscribed 'Nachtdruck 61', which Karsch gives as an indicator of this state. 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.