Lot 12
  • 12

Otto Dix

bidding is closed


  • Otto Dix
  • signed Dix (lower right)
  • charcoal and chalk on paper
  • 100 by 69.5cm.
  • 39 3/8 by 27 1/4 in.


Hans Cürlis, Berlin (a gift from the artist)
Acquired from the estate of the above by the present owner


Paris, Centre Pompidou, Otto Dix. Dessins d'une guerre à l'autre, 2003, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue and on the cover
Regensburg, Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie and Schaffhausen, Museum zu Allerheiligen, Welt und Sinnlichkeit, 2005-2006, illustrated in the catalogue


Wendelin Renn (ed.), Otto Dix zum 99., Kinderwelt und Kinderbildnis, Villingen-Schwenningen, 1990, illustrated p. 152
Hans Kinkel, Die Toten und die Nackten. Beiträge zu Dix, Berlin, 1991, illustration p. 90
Jung-Hee Kim, Frauenbilder von Otto Dix. Wirklichkeit und Selbstbekenntnis (dissertation), Münster and Hamburg, 1994, illustrated pl. 160
Ulrike Lorenz, Otto Dix. Das Werkverzeichnis der Zeichnungen und Pastelle, Weimar 2003, vol. III, no. NSk 1.0.19, illustrated p. 965
'L'histoire au scalpel', in Tageblatt, 16th January 2003, illustrated
'Otto Dix: un vérisme véhément', in Le Figaro, 24th January 2003, illustrated
'Tout Otto Dix sur papier', in Conaissance des Arts, Februar 2003, illustrated

Catalogue Note

This monumental work is a preliminary study for one of the most important self-portraits of Otto Dix, Selbstbildnis mit Staffelei (Self-Portrait with Easel) dating from 1926, now in the permanent collection of the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren, Germany (fig. 1). During the 1920s Dix had a number of successes: he had his first one-man shows in Berlin and Munich, and following his participation in the landmark exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Mannheim in 1925, Neue Sachlichkeit. Deutsche Malerei seit dem Expressionismus, he became associated with the group of painters of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). Dix settled in Berlin in the same year and his ruthless realism turned him into one of the most talked-about portrait artists of his generation.

In contrast to the final painting, the present charcoal drawing shows the artist accompanied by an unidentified model. In the painted version, Dix obviously decided to exclude the model in order to focus even more on his own image, portraying himself in a critical, scrutinising way. The present study relates very closely to the finished work, depicting the painter in exactly the same pose, wearing his 1920s dandy suit, his oiled hair and depicting the strong eyebrows as in the painting. His gaze seems to be resting on the canvas whereas in the painting, Dix is looking at the viewer with his sharp, observing eyes. The painter’s hands, however, seem to give a very different impression of the artist. Interestingly, he is drawing or painting with his left hand and holding his right hand almost clumsily against his jacket. This pose has a distinctly defensive quality which stands in opposition to the painter’s serious, determined and confident facial expression.

Selbstbildnis an der Staffelei und mit Modell allows the viewer a rare psychological insight into the world of the painter Otto Dix, allowing us to witness the creative process of the artist prior to his painting of the oil version. Dr Hans Cürlis, the previous owner of the present work, was seeking exactly this kind of insight into an artist’s mind. He was the creator of a famous series of films with the title Schaffende Hände (Creative Hands) which he started in the 1920s and continued until the 1970s. In these films, Cürlis visited and portrayed artists, such as, Calder, Kandinsky, Corinth, Liebermann, Pechstein and Dix. In the 1920s he met Dix through Karl Nierendorf, at the time the painter’s principal dealer, and was as much fascinated by this artist as many of his contemporaries. Following this long standing close relationship with Dix, Cürlis received the present work as a gift from the artist and it stayed in his collection until his death in 1983.  

FIG. 1, Otto Dix, Selbstbildnis an der Staffelei , oil on canvas, 1926, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren