Etching and drypoint
Dimensions: Plate: 13 5/8 x 11 in. (34.6 x 27.9 cm); Sheet: 19 1/2 x 17 1/8 in. (49.5 x 43.5 cm)
Gift of Isabel and William Berley, Classes of 1947 and 1945
Object Number: 99.078.076
Coming out of the traumatic end of World War I, Otto Dix was a member of the Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity. The movement’s goal was to instill a new sense of practical engagement with the world, focusing on hard work and usefulness over romantic ideals, as well as the good of the collective over the good of the individual. This belief was generally expressed through images of social protest, but humor was often interjected. Dix specifically depicted those on the margins after the war—mainly veterans, the elderly, and prostitutes—always through a bleak lens. Alte Dirne depicts an impoverished, elderly prostitute who is almost inhuman in proportion. On one level her skeletal frame offers a critique of poverty, though, on another level, it is also oddly humorous as she curls her hand and raises her eyebrows in a seductive manner. Through coupling extreme poverty with sexual gestures, Dix both creates an amusing image without sacrificing his subject’s agency by also highlighting a need for social change. ("Imprint/ In Print," curated by Nancy E. Green with assistance from Christian Waibel '17 and presented at the Johnson Museum August 8 - December 20, 2015)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.