Love, Death and the Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix, is only part of the title of the current Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) show: But it is a perfect description of his work.
Rouge Cabaret: Love, Death and the Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix is the first major North American exhibition devoted to this 20th century German figure. It is organized by the MMFA and New York’s Neue Galerie. Otto’s work is disturbing and yet curiously fascinating. He portrays society and the individuals of his era (pre-WWII Germany) in a scornful and often unattractive manner. His ruthlessly subjective assessment of people and parties shows an ugly side of human nature. Figures are painted with an acerbic realism: faces are gaunt, laughing red mouths reveal unattractive teeth, bodies are elongated, and features are exaggerated, often to the point of caricature. His dour depictions of debauchery and sad suffering captured a moment in time in Germany, when one way to cope with the atrocities of World War I and German defeat was to party: non-stop.
Unsurpringly, the Nazi regime was not pleased with his work. Otto Dix was regarded as a degenerate artist, and fired from his position as art teacher at the Dresden Academy. His paintings “The Trench” and “War Cripples” were exhibited in the state-sponsored Munich 1937 exhibition of degenerate art, Entartete Kunst. Then they were burned. But time brought perspective to Otto Dix’s work. In 1991, a German stamp was issued bearing the image of a nude dancer and opium addict, Anita Berber: It was painted by Otto Dix. The artist also experienced the horrors of battle: he fought in both world wars. This experience led to a portfolio of etchings published in 1924. Some of his works from this time are also in the show, which includes 200 pieces and historical documents.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
September 24 – January 2, 2011
1380 Sherbrooke Street West
Monday – closed
Tuesday 11- 5 pm
Wednesday- Friday 11 – 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5 pm
Bus: #24 along Sherbrooke. Stop in front of the Museum.
STAY FOR AWHILE
Browse in the Museum’s Alladin’s cave of packed treasures; The book store. But also holiday gifts. Beautiful jewellery, artisan pieces, reproductions, and cards. Scarves, purses and objets d’art are just next door.
Leave coats and umbrellas at the Coat Check. Relax. Both the Café des beaux-arts (licensed) and the Cafeteria inside the Museum building are open during Museum hours.