''Modern artists owe a lot to German expressionist Otto Dix''

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Zafri Mudasser Nofil

New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) His works may not have Indianor Asian influence, but the brutal honesty and forcefulness ofOtto Dix''s art can be found in many contemporary works, saysart historian Philipp Gutbrod about the great Germanexpressionist.

"I see Dix''s influence in artworks by for exampleGeorge Condo, Nigel Cooke, or Manuel Ocampo. These artistssucceed in giving their paintings a maximum impact. They areclearly aware of art history and have studied the masters, butthey use their exceptional technique outside of traditionalaesthetic norms," Gutbrod, president of New York''s VillaGrisebach Auctions Inc., told PTI.

He says that India has a "wonderfully rich" arttradition and young artists are becoming more and moresuccessful on the international art scene.

"Even though the contemporary art world around theglobe is becoming increasingly homogeneous, I enjoy seeingclear elements of Indian culture in contemporary Indian art."

Gutbrod has special praise for Indian artists likeTyeb Mehta, Anish Kapoor, Subodh Gupta and Vibha Galhotra.

"Many fascinating and famous artists have emerged fromIndia, for example Tyeb Mehta and Anish Kapoor. Of the youngerartists, Subodh Gupta is already well known and I also likeVibha Galhotra, who I think will continue to surprise us inthe future with exceptional artworks," he says.

Gutbrod came out a biography of the artist "Otto Dix:The Art of Life" in German and English spanning his eventfullife and multifaceted body of work.

Dix (1891-1969) was not known to have been influencedby Asian artists, but in his early years, he was "influencedby Impressionism and Jugendstil, art movements owing a lot toAsian art." .

Exhibitions of Dix''s works have, however, been held in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.

Gutbrod finds Dix to be an extremely passionate personon every level.

"He absorbed life and created art with all his senses.

His outlook on life was truly based on the writings of thephilosopher Nietzsche: ''Beyond Good and Evil''. He did notadhere to social norms and did not believe in absolute morals.

Still, he did speak up when he saw things that seemed unjustor wrong to him.

"For example, he painted his famous War triptychagainst the resurgence of a nationalistic movement in Germanyat the end of the Weimar Republic, because he believed thetruth was not being told about the horrors of war," he says.

Dix fought and drew on the front during World War I inthe grip of a Dionysian lust for life. After 1918, he gavethis war the most honest face ever bestowed on it by anartist. During the Weimar Republic, Dix proved to be an enfantterrible, a dandy, and an urban sophisticate, but he was alsoa respected professor.

Driven out of his position by the Nazis just severalmonths after they came to power, then ostracized andthreatened, he retreated to Lake Constance, employing broadbrushstrokes to forge a new path after 1945.

The book accompanies Dix through his eventful life andhis multifaceted oeuvre - from the early self-portraits to themasterpieces of the twenties and the calm, mature work of hislater career.

Six years before his death in 1969, Dix had said, "Iam a realist. I must see everything. I must experience all oflife''s abysses for myself."

Gutbrod says this credo is testimony to the artist''suncompromising commitment to even the harshest realism andstood as a guiding principle throughout his life.

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