art and social conscience


Otto Dix. The War II/2: Shock Troop Advancing under Gas Attack. (1924).
Etching, aquatint and drypoint
from MoMA Collection.
(May not be in Neue Gallery exhibition)

Artist-blogger Mark Vallen writes about “arts and culture, with an emphasis on socially conscious works” on his blog Art for a Change. I admire and appreciate his voice and empathize with the social issues he emphasizes. The last three posts have also been very meaningful to me as a printmaker.

Last week he wrote about the sudden closing of Self Help Graphics, an East Los Angeles’ institution dedicated to Chicano art, printmaking and grassroots community arts. This was followed by a post about the ensuing protests and his involvement in trying to encourage dialogue to keep it open. I hope a positive and happy ending will be found for the artists dependent on this institution.

Today’s post is about an exhibition of antiwar prints by two German Expressionist artists: “WAR/HELL: Master Prints by Otto Dix and Max Beckmann”, a collection of etchings and lithographs now showing through September, 2005, at the Neue Galerie in New York City. Vallen writes: If it all sounds terribly familiar, it should. Dix and Beckman not only succeeded in exposing the ugly realities of war in a way that hadn’t been done since Goya’s print series, The Disasters of War – they also effectively created artworks that stepped outside of their timeframe and place of national origin. Please read the entire post and visit the Gallery’s site to see the (unfortunately) few images. I found the gallery’s mission statement very interesting too.

I’ve been fortunate in seeing some of each artists’ work in Germany and elsewhere, and have always felt their work disturbing, with a very strong gut reaction of horror every time – definitely in the class of Goya’s Disasters of War and Picasso’s Guernica.

June 27, 2005 in Art Exhibitions, Other artists, Printmaking by Marja-Leena