These prostitutes are past their prime, tired and completely stuck in dead-end jobs. Otto Dix was rightfully feared as a portraitist in 1920s Germany, but he was not without sympathy for victims and the downtrodden. As worn-out as these women appear, they retain more human elements than Dix was known to paint into those higher up on the social ladder.
True story: Both Salon I and Salon II (lost) were acquired by Dix's good friend, sometime patron and one time sitter, Dr. Hans Koch (1881-1952). When the artist left Düsseldorf to return to Dresden in 1921, one of the items traveling with him was Koch's wife, Martha (1895–1985). Dix and Martha later married, while Dix and Koch, incredibly, remained good friends. When the latter married his ex-wife's older sister, Maria, the two men indeed became brothers-in-law. How terribly, terribly civil.
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.