The face of Germany between the two world wars was captured by two very different artists. And now their work has gone on show at Tate Liverpool in a summer blockbuster with a difference.
Previous summer shows have revolved around the artwork of household names like Picasso, Monet, Klimt, Magritte and Francis Bacon.
In Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919-1933, the Albert Dock gallery has chosen to showcase the output of a pair of perhaps lesser-known artists, in Britain at least, painter Otto Dix and photographer August Sander, to present a compelling portrait of the people living in between the aftermath of the Great War and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis.
Dix, who himself served at the Somme and on the Eastern Front during the First World War, presented what have been described as ‘harshly realistic depictions’ of Weimar society.
Meanwhile Sander, who lost much of his work in an accidental fire in 1946, published his book Face of Our Time in 1929, and photographed a cross-section of the German population in his major project People of the 20th Century over a 40-year period from 1910.
The new show at Tate Liverpool is made up of two separate exhibitions – Otto Dix: The Evil Eye, and ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander, which includes more than 140 images presented here in chronological order with a social, economic, political and artistic timeline created in collaboration with historians, rather than the subject groupings Sander originally used.
Lauren Barnes, Tate Liverpool assistant curator, explains: “The exhibition is to do with how artists contribute to the times they’re living in and can serve as people who document and commentate on those times.
“Sander and Dix did that in such different ways. Sander’s was a big, over-arching project. Dix was fascinated by the grotesque and the underbelly. But they both recognised the times they were living in.”
Bohemians (Willi Bongard and Gottfried Brockmann) by August Sander c1922-25
Other images featured are Otto Dix and wife Martha by August Sander 1926-6, and The Widow (1922) by Otto Dix
More than 250 of Dix’s works were confiscated after the Nazis rose to power in the mid-1930s, and four of those works are on show in Liverpool.
Lauren adds: “It’s exciting to be able to bring together such a large number of Otto Dix works. It’s the first time since 1992 that a large number have been shown in the UK.”
Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919-1933 is at Tate Liverpool from June 23 to October 15. Tickets are £12/£10 on the website HERE.