Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Otto Dix, Sturmtruppe geht unter Gas vor (Assault under Gas), 1924, watercolour, 35.3 x 47.5 cm, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.

© Deutsches Historisches Museum.

The battlefield

21 - Otto Dix

De Groux's vision can be placed half-way between realism and the fantastic. That of Dix sometimes verges on the nightmarish. Seen head on, close up, throwing their grenades among the barbed wire and tree roots, the masked soldiers appear inhuman, just like the surroundings which appear unreal, the No Man's Land of the trenches. It is noteworthy that Dix chose to depict not enemy, but German soldiers. In 1924, which was one of a set of 50 plates entitled War, this engraving shocked public opinion in that Dix shows a complete lack of respect for his old comrades in the fighting forces. In place of the exaltation of heroism, he prefers to denounce the savagery of the destruction.