Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Otto Dix, Lichtsignale (The Flare), 1917, gouache on paper, 40.78 x 39.4 cm, Städische Galerie, Albstadt.

© SESAM, Paris, 1998.

The death

91 - Otto Dix

The light of the flares reveals what was hidden in the night: a mound of twisted bodies, skulls, limbs torn apart - a dance of death. This, one of Dix's most expressionistic works, boils down everyday experience into a central theme. The clashes of colour intensify the violence of the painting as can be sensed in the artist's vigorous brushstrokes, in the deformations, the explosions of red and white and the patches of blue partly covering the grey and green. Later, Dix returned to this theme in an uncompromisingly realistic style; and yet this chaotic, vehement painting of 1917 conveys the revulsion and the terror no less effectively.