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Drypoint on firm vellum
Signed and dated with pencil lower right: “DIX 22”
Numbered lower left: 31/50
Titled lower centre: “Dompteuse”
Plate 10 of the portfolio Radierwerk IV “ZIRKUS”, 10 drypoint etchings (K 32-41), published in 1922 by Otto Dix in an edition of 50.
Florian Karsch (ed.): ‘Otto Dix. Das graphische Werk’. Hannover 1970, cat. no. 41 II, repr. p. 64
Otto Dix is not only one of the main representatives of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), but also one of the outstanding graphic artists of the 20th century, who was also part of the First International DADA Fair alongside George Grosz and John Heartfield. As in his hyper-realistic paintings, he prefers to treat outsiders of bourgeois society in his etchings and lithographs, which earned him the reputation of an enfant terrible of the art scene: His constant embrace of taboo subjects and his acerbic portrayal of them led to regular clashes with the authorities of the Weimar Republic. Detailed images of destitute prostitutes, war cripples and workers caused public outrage. Despite their psychological subtlety, his portraits projected a less than flattering view of humanity as a whole, which hardly mitigated the situation. But he also took rare pleasure in the grotesque, sometimes even showing a tendency towards caricature. This took at least some of the edge off the polemical aspect of his work. The use of satirical accents thus allowed it to be both a mirror and a commentary on the circumstances portrayed. But the year 1933 marked a turning: A few months after the Nazis seized power he was dismissed from his professorial post at the Academy and banned from exhibiting his work. His paintings were labelled as ‘degenerate’ and removed from German museums.