new-york

Max Beckmann and Otto Dix

Neue Galerie New York

War is hell. That truism underscores the first-ever pairing of the entirety of two of the most powerful visual records of World War I: “Der Krieg” (War), 1924, a series of fifty etchings by Otto Dix; and “Die Hölle” (Hell), 1919, eleven lithographs by Max Beckmann. Both artists enthusiastically volunteered to fight in the conflict—Dix serving for four years in the trenches and Beckmann for one year as a medic before being discharged following a nervous breakdown. And both cited—albeit in very different ways—a philosophical underpinning. (Dix referred ironically to Friedrich Nietzsche’s dictum “Die and become!” while Beckmann claimed Schopenhauer as an influence.) But, as these portfolios show, both were also subsequently swayed from any faith in the creative possibilities of destruction and violence, dedicating themselves instead to a grisly indictment of the depravity and inhumanity they

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