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Cartoon for Metropolis (Triptych), 1928


Photograph provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Used with permission

Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969). Cartoon for Metropolis (Triptych), 1928. Charcoal, pencil and red and white chalk and body color on paper. Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, permanent loan from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Photo: Uwe H. Seyl, Stuttgart. © 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Dix gives us a glimpse, here, of his prodigious skill as a draftsman. The cartoon for the later painting, Metropolis, is peopled with his wife, many friends and acquaintances, and Dix himself. Drawn at a time when life was going well for the artist both personally and professionally, you might think it very nearly veers into a kinder, gentler Dix ... but, no. Scratch the surface and every sneering comment on Weimar society, and every bit of anatomical symbolism is present. Not to mention the fact that a triptych is, traditionally, the format of many religious altarpieces. Hard to imagine a more secular subject for an "altarpiece," isn't it? That was almost certainly Dix's pointed point.


Left: 70 7/8 x 40 3/4 in. (180 x 103.5 cm)
Center: 70 7/8 x 90 9/16 in. (180 x 230 cm)
Right: 70 1/2 x 39 3/4 in. (179 x 101 cm)

About the show:

The years of the Weimar Republic in Germany were short, sad and, particularly in Berlin, spectacular. A contingent of German visual artists moved on from Dada to Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), from which a leftist sub-branch now known as Verism arose.

The Verist works on view in this exhibition were painted during a society's death spiral. Prostitutes, war cripples, transvestites, wealthy industrialists, doctors, lawyers and, yes, often the Verist artists themselves, are captured here in a now-lost era. Less 'enjoyable' than many themed exhibitions, Glitter and Doom... is superlative at compelling the viewer to look and think.

"Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s" is on view from November 14, 2006 – February 19, 2007 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028-0198. (Telephone: 212-535-7710; Website). The museum is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Friday and Saturday from 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM. Suggested admission is $20.00 for adults, $15.00 for seniors and $10.00 for students. Paid parking is available in the Museum Garage.

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