'Despairing Head' By Otto Dix

1138 Words5 Pages
Art can be used to not only show and document the horror of war, but it can also communicate the psychological impact experienced by mans inhumane treatment to fellow man and the effect of that trauma. This essay is discussing two artworks, the first, ‘Despairing Head’ by Albert Tucker in 1942 and the second, ‘Storm Troops Advancing Under Gas’ by Otto Dix in 1924. Both artists are communicating the psychological impact war has on man, the despair, shell shocked anxiety and the private trauma of isolation. Tucker has used oil pastels on paper and Dix has produced an etching with aquatint and drypoint. Tuckers piece is overall heavy and dark with lots of black and yellowy green tones. The rough texture of the paper is apparent. The portrait…show more content…
He was profoundly affected by the sights of war and later described a recurring nightmare of his traumatic experiences. Dix later explains why he volunteered to go to war and why he needed the experience: “I have to experience all the ghastly, bottomless depths of life for myself, its for this reason that I went to war and for that reason I volunteered.” (Brainyquote, 2016). In the etching Dix has created, jagged lines which create a threatening and unnerving impression on the viewer, with the strong vertical lines of the sticks and figures suggesting movement. Dix asserts, “people were already beginning to forget, what horrible suffering the war had brought them. I did not want to cause fear and panic, but to let people know how dreadful it is and so to stimulate people’s powers of resistance.” (Brainyquote, 2016). The contrast of the white masks against the darkness of the figures and background depict wraithlike and eerie qualities, making the figures look faceless and ghostlike. The lack of colour in this artwork proves a point by being predominantly black, representing evil and death and with white representing bones. The stark white masks and parts of the clothing portray that of bones and skeletons. Dix has used repetition by the use of not only multiple human figures but more dominantly the masks and the expressionless eyes, making the people appear inhuman and unearthly. Dix has…show more content…
Dix explains the unknown affect war has on man and how it impacts even your dreams: “As a young man you didn’t notice at all that you were, after all, badly affected. For years afterwards, at least ten years, I kept getting these dreams in which I had to crawl through ruined houses, along passages I could hardly get through.” (nga, 1924). Personally, I think they both make the following statements: In order to survive, people become isolated, detached and almost inhumane, and that man never fully recovers from the trauma of war. Both Tucker and Dix have used line and colour in their respective artworks to create a heavy and volatile atmosphere for the viewer. Both have used lots of dark colours, particularly black to create that atmosphere. Both of their artworks have a large amount of dark areas with the darker parts contrasting the lighter in such a way to make it feel eerie and almost
Open Document