Anne K. Reimers
‘Otto Dix and 1920s Media Culture’
Otto Dix is seen as a leading figure of the Neue Sachlichkeit in painting in 1920s Germany, and he is without a doubt the most studied and exhibited today. Although his work was created in the context of a rapidly expanding media culture, aspects of the relationship of his verist-realist paintings to this historically specific environment have yet to receive sufficient scholarly attention.
This study focuses on a small number of portrait paintings the artist created in the first half of the 1920s – some frequently discussed, others rarely mentioned or reproduced – and explores four aspects of his work: firstly the way Dix engaged with fashion and celebrity culture; secondly how he responded to the challenge posed by photography and film; thirdly how he dealt with a situation where black-and-white reproductions were the most common way in which a diverse audience encountered his work; and finally the way in which Dix’s career development ran in parallel with the commentary on his work in journalistic and specialist media publications. Throughout the thesis, fashion in its different incarnations – as a temporal agent, artefact, and industry – is identified as an allegory, medium, agent of rupture, and directional force that connected Dix’s work in very specific ways to 1920s media culture.
The thesis draws upon letters, a broad variety of contemporary publications, and specific statements Dix made in interviews, that have previously not been considered. While the writings of art critics are the main literary source, I will also consider how the artist’s output intersected with the concerns of leading cultural commentators and art historians of the time.
I graduated with a Master of Arts degree in History of Art (major), Philosophy and Italian Philology from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn in 2004 (distinction). Thesis on the Austrian media artist VALIE EXPORT entitled 'The Early Work of VALIE EXPORT: Medium, Body, Language, Space.'
PGCert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University for the Creative Arts (2007).