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Artillery Battle (Artillerieschlacht)

Otto Dix

Artwork Details

Artillery Battle (Artillerieschlacht)
Otto Dix
charcoal and gouache on paper mounted on linen
22 3/10 in x 22 ⅛ in x 1 ½ in (56.67 cm x 56.2 cm x 3.81 cm);22 3/10 in x 22 ⅛ in x 1 ½ in (56.67 cm x 56.2 cm x 3.81 cm);16 in x 15 ⅝ in (40.64 cm x 39.69 cm)
Museum Purchase


Many soldiers enthusiatically enlisted in World War I expecting adventure and an occasion for heroic action. Instead, they encountered a new type of warfare in which the scale of force and destruction made individuals insignificant. In Artillery Battle, Dix, an artilleryman in the German army, draws on his own life to graphically depict the terror of industrial warfare. In the center, a figure trapped inside a vortex of exploding colors and splintering shards suggests the panic and isolation soldiers experienced under bombardment in their grave-like trenches. Dix said of the war: "[it] was a horrible thing, but there was something tremendous about it too. I didn't want to miss it at any price. You have to have seen human beings in this unleashed state to know what human nature is."

Subject Matter:

Otto Dix's "Artillery Battle" is a study in the horrible experience of mechanized warfare in World War I. The painting depicts how it felt to be powerless, completely at the mercy of the mighty machines of war, like artillery.

Physical Description:

A human face in anguish, with hands raised to his cheeks, looks out from the center of a visual field full of slashing diagonals and explosive triangles of color. On the left side, smoke billows.

Usage Rights:

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