Go to contents

Birth of baby

Posted May. 04, 2023 07:55,   

Updated May. 04, 2023 07:55


Newborns are obviously a blessing to celebrate. Curiously, German artist Otto Dix depicted his newborn boy as a monstrously ugly baby. What could he have been thinking about while drawing the apple of his eye?

He was among the many artists who survived one of the most tumultuous moments in German history, including the two World Wars and Germany’s loss and division. The way he applied satire and frankness to all the atrocities that he suffered firsthand while fighting at the forefront stood him out. However, life is not always full of tragedy. To him, the year of 1927 was one of the luckiest moments. He was hired as an art teacher at the Dresden Academy and gained a long-awaited son. After his son, Ursus, was born, he started drawing his family members’ portraits – among which “The Artist's Family'' is one of the most renowned pieces. It is obvious that he referred to the classic model of the Madonna and Child to construct the frame of the canvas where the Madonna has the Christ Child on her knees with a lovely stare at her son. Where Saint Joseph is supposed to be, Dix himself is shown while his daughter Nelly replaces John the Baptist. What captures attention in this painting is this little girl getting unchildlike, spooky eyes with a mysterious smile on her face. You may be attracted to this girl staring presumably at you outside of the canvas with the uncanniness of her eyes and hand passing over a red carnation to the baby boy. The flower symbolizes the passion of Jesus Christ in the traditional model of the Madonna and Child. By drawing not the baby’s mother but his sister giving this symbolic object to him, the artist analogically criticized that the horrors and cruelties of war could turn generations of the same era into enemies aiming at one another with a gun.

Could babies, if born in the era of violence, be celebrated as a blessing? Dix compared an ordeal that his children would endure later with all the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the rise of the Nazis led to the Holocaust and later caused the Second World War. Dishonorably stigmatized as a lewd, decadent artist, he was sacked from school. With that being said, the birth of a baby is a happy and joyful event, as implied by his father grinning ear to ear in the painting.