Monday, May 16, 2011

Wounded Soldier, Otto Dix, 1916

The German painter Otto Dix painted Wounded Soldier in 1916 to record the most horrifying scenes he had witnessed in the battlefield of World War I. When the First World War erupted, Dix enthusiastically volunteered for the German Army (Remer). He was assigned to a field artillery regiment in Dresden. In the fall of 1915 he was assigned as a non-commissioned officer of a machine-gun unit in the Western front and took part in the Battle of the Somme. In November 1917, his unit was transferred to the Eastern front until the end of hostilities with Russia, and in February 1918 he was stationed in Flanders. Back in the western front, Dix fought in the German Spring offensive. In August of that year he was wounded in the neck, and he was discharged of service in December 1918 (Simkin). Dix was profoundly affected by the sights of the war, and would later describe a recurring nightmare in which he crawled through destroyed houses (Remer). He represented his traumatic experiences in his works, including Wounded Soldier. As an eyewitness to the most disgusting and scary event during the war, Otto Dix decided to put his experiences on the record to let the horror of the war be forever remembered.
The colors used in Wounded Soldier are the same as Picasso’s Guernica: black, white, and grey. Both artists use dark colors to demonstrate the gloomy atmosphere of the wars. However, the styles of the new paintings are completely different. Guernica has a chaotic layout with strange figures; Wounded Soldier is a realistic painting in which every detail is painted.
Otto Dix shows the horror of the war by painting a heavily injured soldier who is crying for help. The soldier’s left arm breaks and is twisted, and his right arm hold his chest tightly as if he is experiencing a heart attack that probably resulted from the poisonous gas. The main focus of the painting is the sorrowful, terrified face of the soldier. It seems like that he knows his end is coming but he still struggles to live. His widely opened eyes and mouth send the message that he wants to live, but his dismembered body and the injury beneath his chest already announce his death. The injured and dismembered body of the soldier shows the cruelty and horror of the war, and the soldier’s terrifying and hopeless face demonstrates the suffering of the soldiers involved in wars.

Works Cited:
Remer, Ashley. "The Art Story: Artist - Otto Dix." The Art Story: Artist- Otto Dix., 2011. Web. 11 May 2011. 

Simkin, John. "Otto Dix : Biography." Spartacus Educational. Web. 11 May 2011. 

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