Portraying a Nation : Germany, 1919-1933

Today I’m taking a break from my travel posts because yesterday I travelled to Liverpool to meet a friend.  The main purpose for the expedition was to visit the Tate Liverpool to see the German Expressionist show on the fourth floor.

Some months ago I snipped this out of the Weekend Financial Times Life and Arts section :

FT article

I contacted Deirdre and we made a date for Monday 17 July

Tate Ticket

No photography is allowed in the exhibition so I’ve taken pictures of the postcards I bought to send and from the leaflet picked up at the show and newspaper reviews.

Left : The architect [Hans Lüttgen] and his wife Dora 1926 Both by August Sander

Right : Martha and Otto Dix 1925-26

Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919–1933 presents the faces of Germany between the two world wars told through the eyes of painter Otto Dix (1891–1969) and photographer August Sander (1876–1964) – two artists whose works document the radical extremes of the country in this period.

Featuring more than 300 paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, Portraying a Nation combines two exhibitions: Otto Dix: The Evil Eye, which includes paintings and works on paper that explore Dix’s harshly realistic depictions of German society and brutality of war, and ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander, which presents photographs from Sander’s best known series People of the Twentieth Century, his attempt to document the German people. In painting and photography, these works from a pivotal point in the country’s history reflect both the glamour and the misery of Weimar Republic.”

Secretary West German Radio 1931

A secretary at West German Radio 1931 – August Sander

The first half of the show presents just a selection of August Sander’s photographs. I wonder where these are normally kept. He has categorised the pictures of people into 7 groups : The farmer; the skilled tradesman; the woman; classes and professions; the artists; the city and finally The last people – idiots, the insane and the sick. Within the categories he has further broken down the groupings. Some pictures were taken in his studio and others in the street or with rural backgrounds. I only know that as I looked at each photo as we walked round the gallery and read the handwritten chronology of events during each year in which the photos were taken, my feelings became more and more desperate for these people – victims and oppressors. It was quite chilling. The final four photos were taken by Sander’s son in a political prison. He died in 1944.

Otto Dix Self 1926

Self Portarit of Otto Dix 1926

“I’ll either be famous or infamous.”

About The Artist… [Otto Dix]

Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker best known for his unforgiving depiction of Weimar Society and the Great War from whence it was forged. Along with George Grosz and Max Beckmann, he is considered one of the most important artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit. [source]

Left : Mrs Martha Dix 1923                                   Right : The widow 1922

The Otto Dix exhibition is subtitled The Evil Eye. There are more than 150 works in various media all created between 1912 and 1932. He set out to represent his era in all its extremes from the First World War to the ‘surface cracks in the Golden Twenties’.

Of course, he fell foul of Hitler and the Nazis and his paintings were displayed in the Degenerate Art Museum in Munich and they were afterwards destroyed.

A fellow blogger has written about his visit to the exhibition in two separate posts :



I’m off to look at them now.








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