Otto Dix and Switzerland

Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur, 22. Juni bis 27. Oktober 2024 / curated by Ina Jessen and Stephan Kunz

Otto Dix (1891-1969) is considered one of the most important German artists of the 20th century. His committed realism made him famous in the 1920s, but caused him to become an ostracised artist during the National Socialist era. In 1933, he lost his professorship at the Dresden Academy of Art and his works were deemed ‘degenerate art’. Otto Dix retreated to Lake Constance near the Swiss border and created numerous landscape paintings between 1933 and 1945, which reflect the upheavals and contradictions of the time in a surprising way. What is striking about these works is the old-masterly style of painting, which stands in stark contrast to the veristic work of the Weimar period. His landscapes are regarded as images of an ‘inner emigration’ and, with their almost uncanny emptiness, convey an unease with the times.

Switzerland was an important point of reference in Otto Dix’s paintings and drawings in the 1930s. However, his artistic and biographical connections to Switzerland have hardly been recognised to date. The Bündner Kunstmuseum is exploring this in a special exhibition and a detailed publication. At the centre of the exhibition are the works by Otto Dix, which were created at the end of the 1930s when the artist spent a long period of time in the Engadin for a cure and which have never been shown together before. The painting “San Gian” in Winter from the collection of the Bündner Kunstmuseum can thus be shown for the first time in a larger context of other oil paintings and a series of extremely fine drawings.