Otto Dix (1891-1969)
The Poet Iwar von Lücken, 1926
Otto Dix was primarily a portrait painter. Nothing fascinated or moved him more than mankind; he was not interested in reproducing reality, but in investigating and capturing the recurrent mystery of being human. The inscription “The Poet Iwar von Lücken” is prominently placed above the signature – the painter obviously attaches considerable importance to the subject’s profession in this picture. But it is by no means the portrait of a poet ennobled by genius. Instead, Dix depicts a thin figure standing in a bare, depressingly restrictive attic room, wearing a worn-out, oversized suit. The poet appears out-of-place and lost in this sad environment, which is steeped in shades of dull brown and grey. Forced into the extreme corner of the room, he is trapped between a sloping ceiling and the chair that he leans on, seeking support. The omnipresent sloping line - which may be discerned across the whole image - is a leitmotif underlining the inhospitable, hopeless situation.
A noble figure in a banal world – the motif is symbolically heightened by the image of delicate yellow roses in a beer bottle. Dix also used the unusually large picture format to cite the traditional genre of the ruler’s portrait, thus raising Iwar von Lücken to the level of the tragic, sublime figure, despite his social decline. The poet is made to appear a worldly man of sorrows, his face is marked by experience, his eyes are tired and sad, and a gesture of supplication is suggested by the hanging right arm with its hand held out towards the viewer.
The Poet Iwar von Lücken
Oil and tempera on canvas
226 x 120 cm
Acquired with funds from the Foundation DKLB, the Federal Home Office and the Museum Fund of the Senator for Cultural Affairs Berlin, 1988.
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011