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at strange creatures for whom life is more than a business? ‘It’s proper that way’, you say; ‘it’s entertaining that way; it’s culture!’ F.Nietzsche. The Gay Science. Book 2. Part 86. P.86.
socialisation of modern life, to the seemingly natural being made of the patently unnatural; for Nietzsche, such social control and softening of reality was to be seen as the principle error of human kind. Freud offers an alternative view; he is similar to Nietzsche in that he too believes in man as natural phenomenon, in his instinctual being, but he differs in his conclusion. Where Nietzsche sees weakness in our submission to social norms, leading to a failure to grasp our true state, Freud tells us that civilized society only exists because of our control, (of the instincts); we must repress the beast within. The following essay is an attempt to develop a psychoanalytical viewpoint of three 20th Century artists -Otto Dix, Max Beckmann and George Grosz. The three painters have plenty in common, primarily, there was a devotion to Nietzsche, but there was more, for example, all three were marked by the Great World War I, as having actually taken part in the war and each having seen a certain amount of real human suffering, it can be said, that they were all three at some point quite literally up to their elbows in the blood and toil of their epoch. 1Secondly they were all three part of a movement in art which came to be known as “New Objectivism” and as such, shared a vision of Germany and German life far less restricted in it’s expression; they were all three active then in what can be termed, the late Expressionist period. Above all though, was a distinctive feeling that they shared, that they, as artists, were not charged with
Varios (1979) Historia del Arte (tomo11). México, D.F.: Salvat Editores, pp.137142.
the duplication, or recording of life, what Nietzsche would refer to as the pleasant presentation of life, no; they had a responsibility to produce art as they saw it necessary. That art should always be as real and fervent as life itself, as true to life as they could possibly get was the aim of these three artists. Beckmann himself has said, “My heart responds more to raw vulgarity, to an art that does not live in a fairytale dreamland but instead grants access to life’s dreadfulness, its baseness, its magnificence, its commonplace grotesque banality”.2 This drive towards closeness with life is what makes all three painters interesting from the point of view of a Freudian analysis. What follows then is the Freudian analysis I have been able to construct; that in their work, coupled as they were to the spirit of their time, what the Germans know as “Zeitgeist”, they reveal to us the true struggle of the German peoples during the first decades of the 20th century, a Germany deformed by war, uncertainty, and above all, struggling to find a new composure. Apart from some spurious Dada connections, these artists worked separately, yet produced work of astoundingly similar creative urgency and expression. The key here for me is the word spirit, this idea that they worked within the spirit of their time is an important one as I believe they were all three embroiled in the crisis of Germany and indeed all of humanity of the time (and beyond). Freud has made clear that as humans we are hopelessly enslaved to two central instinctual drives, one towards life, the instinct of life or Eros, which is complemented by another drive towards death, known as Thanatos. Freud is clear, he says: “Tras largas vacilaciones y dudas, hemos decidido suponer la existencia de sólo dos instintos básicos: el Eros y el instinto de destrucción”.3
Diary entry of January 9, 1909. Varios. (1973) Freud y el Psicoanálisis. Barcelona: Salvat Editores, pp.106.
The structures are marked; there is a tendency towards establishing and conserving greater units of life, whilst coupling them with other important energies (which are heading in the same direction); then, there is at once, a second drive, which is entirely contra directional, towards death and destruction; here is a drive to destroy. The destructive drive is created to move the animated organic being towards a state of unanimated organism. For Freud, our entire social evolution can be traced to these instinctual drives. 4 As Karcher notes, almost all of Dix’s paintings are fascinated by prostitution, war, the grand city, religion; features where drama is pushed forward thanks to the instinctual drives of Eros and Thanatos.5 Looking below at one of the first paintings by Dix (Fig 1) we can see he has successfully stated his grand theme to come. A vase of flowers, which are in the height of life, is countered by the death symbol, the skull. Both are extremely rooted in the language of the traditional still life yet they belong explicitly to Dix’s burgeoning vocabulary, a visual diction which forever walks the fine line between life and death. Fig 1 Otto Dix. Florecer 1911. y Oleo
sobre lienzo, 60,5 x 47, 5 cm. Stadmuseum, Bautzen.
Ibid Karcher, E. (1992) Dix. Colonia: Taschen, pp. 7-15.
and then later. the human experience of their time. as Spieler notes. her legs are open as though she were to give birth. The mourners are deformed by the event. birth. the death of his own father. 1906. (Fig 2) we find again the central Freudian idea of Eros and Thanatos. she is at once a potential mother and prospective sexual partner. death. 6 Spieler. R. What they saw was existence. suffering and. (1995) Beckmann. pp.17. that. his beloved mother. whilst a symbol of life and vibrancy. Beckmann is given a chance to elaborate his internal pain of death. Her vigour is echoed in the tone of the red wall behind. of course. dominated as it was by conception. first his father. also hints at the emotional inner turmoil of the group.Dix. Max Beckmann was no stranger to death having lost both parents at a young age. Beckmann and Grosz were able to characterize their epoch precisely because all three painters were looking directly at their subject from within it.6 We experience life again in the crouched figure of the naked girl. 4 . he has here transcended the autobiographical event to give us an objective view far more tailored toward a general human relationship with the main instinctive drives. Colonia: Taschen. yet she is sexualized. in 1909. the dead figure is also deformed by rigor mortis and it is not clear as to its sex. In the painting Large Death Bed Scene. when Beckmann was just ten years old. via this working out of his subject.
5 . again de-gendered and deformed as in the case of the corpse. 131 x 141 cm. 7 Max Beckmann in conversation with the publisher Reinhard Piper (c. Beckmann himself has said: “I only know one thing. Large Death Scene. Meanwhile the figure to the right. with all the powers I can muster. Berlin. stands in the throws of hysteria.The figures are isolated in their grief. till I can do no more”. the man to the left is lost to himself. 1906. which is that I pursue the idea that I was born with. he has lost all control over his appearance as his trousers collapse away from his naked torso. Oil on Canvass.7 Fig 2 Max Beckmann.1919). already present – if only in embryonic form – in the drama or the death scene. you can almost hear the wails as the figure tosses back its head.
(1992) Dix. It is a picture of hell in procession. a duality between the outside and the inside.8 Each artist interprets that which they decide to be the real objectivity in front of them. whilst late stage syphilis has transformed many of the hoard into madmen. they are always working out from that which works above them. the Grim Reaper himself sits atop the coffin. It is raw in its depiction of what for him was the then current German society. 6 . that which in the view of the “new objectivists” was there to be seen and felt. George Grosz painted The Funeral (Fig 3) around 1917/18.7. sino al servicio de un rango más elevado”. a plethora of ugliness and sickness prevails. Colonia: Taschen. E. the 8 Karcher.In the words of Helmet Lethen “El objectivismo es la tendencia anímico-espiritual a actuar no en el orden del interés personal. riddled as he saw it with excess and debauchery. But as Lethen correctly says. pp.
there are bars and office blocks everywhere. 7 . The Funeral. With The Funeral we are very much in the realm of Freud’s Eros and Thanatos theory. Taschen. Of his picture Grosz himself commented: "In a strange street by night. (2004) Expressionism.frenzied movement is alcohol fuelled. driven to sexual depravity perhaps? Driven to murder 9 Wolf and Grosenick... I painted this protest against a humanity that had gone insane. Oil-on-canvas. plague . What is this insanity that Grosz speaks of? What is the fabric of society? What is the difference between a healthy society and an insane one. their faces reflecting alcohol."9 Fig 3 George Grosz. 1917/18. Germany. pp. one club invites “Dance Tonight” which is an obvious allusion to the dance of death itself. syphilis. a hellish procession of dehumanized figures mills. 140 cm × 110 cm.42.
whereby it recognizes what is real and understands that behaviors have consequences. It does not stem from any shared sense of reality but wants only to dominate proceedings for its own ends.and suicide. The Super-ego contains our values and social morals. which often come from the rules of right and wrong that we learned in childhood from our parents and are 8 . The Id contains our primitive drives and operates largely according to the pleasure principle. each one has of necessity organized a psychological structure. which is the energy storehouse. Eros and Thanatos. The Id. whereby its two main goals are the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. a personality. provoked by repression and the need to control ourselves in front of the circumstances that prevail. The Ego controls higher mental processes such as reasoning and problem solving. which it uses to solve the Id-Super-ego dilemma. creatively finding ways to safely satisfy the Id's basic urges within the constraints of the Super-ego. but more importantly for our topic here is the fact that this Id has two instinctual drives. For Freud. The energy for the Id's actions come from libido. Beckmann and Dix are getting at in their art. which we divide into three separate parts. Unlike the Id. Ego and Super Ego. The dilemma of the Ego is that it has to somehow balance the demands of the Id and Super-ego with the constraints of reality. there has to come a renunciation. To this end. alcoholism? Sigmund Freud’s theory of personal control is valid here as a key entrance point into the understanding of what Grosz. the Ego is aware of reality and hence operates via the reality principle. This includes the effects of social rules that are necessary in order to live and socialize with other people.
(1996) Introducción al psicoanálisis del arte. 9 . What happens is we simply channel the libidinal energy away from the anti-social behaviour towards a more socially acceptable and estimable form of expression. De Tavira.101. 11 Before we go on to discuss what kind instinctual drives may have been surging in Germany in the inter-war period.F. particularly those for sex and aggression. Freud has called this the most productive of all our defense mechanisms. 10 11 Varios.: Plaza y Valdés/Universidad Iberoamericana. pp. It is important for me here as it touches exactly on my point of view.contained in the conscience. pp. at all levels. that is subconsciously and consciously. (1973) Freud y el Psicoanálisis. it is always deeply rooted in their time.sublimation. I would like to move towards a notion of art as presented by the Russian film maker Tarkovsky. F. and seeks to inhibit the Id's pleasure-seeking demands. Barcelona: Salvat Editores. they are shaped by it. when something we have in mind is not convenient to the Super-ego? At this point we need to turn to our in built defense mechanisms – one of which is important to art . no matter what they might think about their production. The Super-ego is a counterbalance to the Id. The Super-ego has a model of an ego ideal that it uses as a prototype against which to compare the ego (and towards which it encourages the ego to move).76-77. that artists are always working within their particular milieu. D. México.10 What happens when we have a crisis.
12 To reiterate. Ediciones Rialp. the art produced is so much more powerful when it is able to move or disturb the viewer at the level of their soul. the artist is then. Enter then the sublimation theory of Freud. 10 . it is something that is beyond art as it relates to conflicts. pp. el artista realmente es la voz del pueblo. Andrei. that is to say.192. The work. España. (1996) Esculpir en el tiempo. who has remarked: “El estado creativo es. disponer de ese “adentro” del inconsciente y sobre todo de un pensamiento 12 Tarkovsky. part and parcel of the whole of their time. se convierte en la voz de quienes no están en condiciones de reflejar y de expresar su relación con la realidad. form one unique whole. nothing that is divisible. Y por eso es también llamado a servir a su talento y a su pueblo. yet something that is organic in that it is part of the same nervous system. often coupled with sexual content? Why the dark sense of humor? Let us begin our analysis of this grouping of some of the more violent images with a quote from Fidel Maccio. that they feel something extremely vital is afoot. and the receptor.In such a relationship. Beckmann and Dix are so filled with violence. Madrid. Why is it that so many of the paintings produced during the inter-war years by Grosz. In the words of Tarkovsky: El artista es quien recoge en mayor plenitud su época y su mundo. The artist and public feel a crisis in this system. En este sentido. and these conflicts between various parts in this grand system require treatment and care.
Whilst it is obviously designed to cause the upmost disturbance for the average 13 Maccio. México. that which we have repressed as being socially unacceptable comes into the view of our conscious mind. moreover. but this. Art works in a similar way. pp. cada avance”. and there. In Asesino Por Placer (autoretrato). Sigmund.105.F. therefore permitting darker parts of our nature to emerge. as in the dream state. México. D. a more unconscious moment.libre sin la influencia del pensar racional fijado a las secuencias que fundamentan cada paso. the artist possesses “sensibilidad para percibir los movimientos animicos secretos de los de mas y valor para dejar hablar en voz alta su propio inconsciente”14 (1910). he is able to sublimate the most antisocial elements of his nature. 11 . in that it is always part of the artist’s society too. pp76. 1920. if we agree with Tarkovsky. in the creative moment. part and parcel of the greater nervous moment of the time. he allows his lower nature to come to the surface. his subconscious state is permitted to gather force. Citado por: De Tavira. He has organized himself so to become the transmitter of those live messages that are dredged up from his subconscious. with the freedom of the canvass. D. 14 Freud. as the artist has free reign over his imagery. (1996) Introducción al psicoanálisis del arte. (1996) Introducción al psicoanálisis del arte. is as we have noted. (Fig 4) Dix pictures himself in a grotesque yet somewhat comedic scenario. Freud says that in the dream state the super-ego loses some of its power over our subconscious state. is at once a communal event. citado por: De Tavira. Fidel. The artist. if only in glimpses and often transformed or distorted by the Super-ego’s attempts to make things more palatable. in the words of Freud. F.F.13 It is then.: Plaza y Valdés/Universidad Iberoamericana. F.: Plaza y Valdés/Universidad Iberoamericana. or.
Alemania. There is an exaggerated disregard for the female human body which has been cut up and disfigured.bourgeois viewer. Fig 4 Otto Dix. 1920. it is also full of the kind of sublimation noted by Freud. El Asesino Por Placer (autoretrato). 12 . he is pure unadulterated Id. limbs hang in the air and the killer is in the height of excited frenzy.
Princeton.15 In this painting we have a direct link between Dix’s own aggression towards women and a sexual content linked to the Id. Dix. he exercises some of the processes produced by the Id in such a way as to cause no direct social harm yet at once he is offensive. Self-Portrait with Eva 15 Tartar. Fig 5. George Grosz. pp. for Dix. art has this moral duty to move the viewer. USA. 13 . Maria. as Jack the Ripper.15. (1995) Lustmorde: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany.Here Dix elaborates his own inner destructive nature. Only through painting it out of himself does Dix prevent the actual acting-out of his own repressed aggression. after painting himself as a slasher murderer of women commented to a friend “I had to get it out of me – that was all”.
Through jokes the subconscious has made a kind of breakthrough. Buenos Aires: Aguilar 14 . and is permitted to show itself by the ego. again there is this playing with subconscious/conscious reality. In the self-portrait photograph of George Grosz as the ripper. it becomes disconnected from the conditions of the controlling structure and can pierce through momentarily into consciousness. Fig 6 16 Freud. Grosz and Dix are playing a game. yet at the same time they are also allowing some of their darker content to come into the light. S. the usual limitations of the mind may be put on hold. (1905) El chiste y su relación con lo inconsciente. the visual joke is heavily charged with its own signification in regards to sublimation. 1918. Freud notes that the joke situation itself is another way that the subconscious can rise up into the conscious world.16 Freud notes that due to the presentation of certain material in the nature of a joke.Peters in the Artist’s Studio.
Germany. Maria. (1995) Lustmorde: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany. Dix and Grosz all experienced first hand the bitterness of the war. as in the case of lustmorde. the trenches and the gory details that they no doubt witnessed are recounted for us time and again in their depictions of aggression towards the female figure. 17 There can be no doubt to my mind that the events they witnessed during the war and the general unconscious energy in Germany at that time contributed to their imagination in depicting such aggression towards women. (Lustmorde) 1922. Princeton. 15 . Asesinato Por Placer. 17 Tartar.Otto Dix. the dream or the act of painting itself.3-20. subconscious elements may come to light through the elaboration of a well known theme. pp. In almost the same way as the joke. As Maria Tartar has noted. or lust murder. both Dix and Grosz made several depictions of sexual murder and rape. Beckmann. USA.
Here. 1922. a great deal of new hatred towards women as new emancipatory measures took a hold in society and added pressure to the already incredibly confrontational post WWI situation. not only for their own aggression but that of their countrymen. 25 5/8 x 19 5/8 inches. water color on paper. its as though the destruction of the female body becomes a vent. but in pre-WW2 Germany there was a great deal of aggressive energy. one form of violence seemingly legitimizing a different form of violence. 18 For Grosz and Dix. Of course we are naturally disgusted by these images. As Tartar notes. Scene II (Mord) [Scene II (Murder). Germany.. but on another plane. 18 Ibid 16 . the war seems to have continued for them.Fig 7 Otto Dix.
Germany. Asesinato Por placer. After seeing friends 17 . his own Eros-Thanatos crisis.Economically and socially. (Lustmorde) 1922. Oleo sobre lienzo. women and men were at a new chapter in the history of the sexes. It is highly possible that the social interest in the lustmord topic was fuelled by a rise in misogyny. Fig 8 Otto Dix. 165 x 135cm. Tracing back to the womb and the biological construction that is woman. as something hopeless perhaps. the birthplace of humanity. but it is equally possible that the horrors of war had forced the painters to look at humanity itself in an entirely different light. the artist may have found the perfect figure against which to paste his deep-seated aggression towards life itself.
they are inhibited. What happens then 19 Freud.disfigured before his eyes. The psychology or art. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought Edition. we name these behaviours. he is just sometimes more and sometimes less .19 A man is then seldom all good or all bad. 18 . selfishness.7. cruelty. and religion. repressed and redirected. all of the aggression has been centered on the destruction of the womb.8) we can see that the genitals have been completely destroyed in two of the images. What happens is a lengthy process of social development. S. brutishness. wouldn’t this be an easy step for the artist to make? Looking above at the Dix representations of lustmord (Fig 6.214. Without control. Such destruction is I think linked to a subconscious exercising of the Thanatos drive. the instincts that govern humanity are neither “good” nor “evil” they just are. there is only chaos. all fall into the category we might deem evil. Here as we have seen. something that must have seemed a distinct possibility after having witnessed the grim realities of front line trench warfare. we classify them in order to meet our own demands for a human community. As Freud says “it is not until these vicissitudes to which instincts are subject have been surmounted that what we call the character of a human being is formed”. Sigmund. For example. there is a desire to destroy the whole of humanity. love. As a civilized society. only then may these instinctual drives become controllable in the adult human being. literature. pp.in control of his primitive urges. The civilized society is one of deep repression. As for Freud’s take on the matter. Presented in: Freud. (2009) On creativity and the unconscious. (1915) Thoughts On War and Death. the very epicenter of human reproduction.
Sigmund. Freud says of man in war. we see the head has been removed entirely and may relate to Grosz’s own shame regarding the cause of his lust. and our disillusionment attached to him.20 Freud is clear. (like pigs) that 20 Freud. pp.in war? Can war change our control mechanisms? Freud says it can: Thus the transformations of instinct on which our cultural adaptability is based. By removing the head it becomes a featureless being. 21 Ibid 19 . will return to a controlled state once the aggression of the war has run its course. Grosz seems to prefer the severing of the head (Fig 9 & 10). As Tartar notes. (1915) Thoughts On War and Death. he has removed its power. Grosz often referred to women as swinish. that: That the greater units of humanity. Undoubtedly the experiences of war are among the forces that can bring about such regression. on the destruction of the womb.218-220. literature. have mutually abrogated their moral restraints naturally prompted these individuals to permit themselves relief for a while from the heavy pressure of civilization and to grant a passing satisfaction to the instincts it holds in check. and religion. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought Edition. where there is a concentration on the genitals of the victims. (2009) On creativity and the unconscious.21 In contrast to the images of Dix. the peoples and states. Below. love. this temporary state. which brings about the highly “uncivilized” behaviours. Man is not as civilized as he likes to think he is. The psychology or art. We should not judge man to have fallen to hard because in Freud’s theory. Presented in: Freud. he had never been so far from his own destruction anyway. S. may also be permanently or temporarily undone by the experiences of life.
indeed his own wife he refers to as his “swinishly voluptuous sweet maid”. Murder on Acker Street.women who danced or flirted were seen as “swine”. Fig 9 George Grosz. (1916) Germany. 20 . Fig 10 George Grosz. John the Woman Killer (1918) Germany.
Maria. USA.98-132. Germany. anything even slightly sexual is viewed as “swinish”. 1916.Throughout his letters. Princeton. and he openly admitted that when he and his wife were alone together they behaved as “swine”. (1995) Lustmorde: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany. 22 Tartar. Grosz’s attitude towards female sexuality suggests that he sees it as something bestial. 21 . The removal of the figures head alleviates the need to feel these “swinish” lustful impulses any longer. pp. The Suicide.22 Fig 11 George Grosz.
such a life leads to hell. This is Grosz. it is what it is. another potential suicide figure hangs in the background. There is no pity or remorse for the dead man. the allowing to the fore our innermost repressed desires toward destruction and death. titled The Suicide. he is. as in the case of the copulating dogs seen in Dix’s Lustmorde (Fig 6) remind us of the lower nature of humanity. parts of our human life which are 22 . we get the feeling he has lain there in this alleyway for days.In the painting above. subconsciously perhaps. appealing to the communal Super-ego. a matter of fact image which is free of any temptation towards sympathy. in the hope that they may engage their control. For Freud then. it is though. which warns of the emptiness of a life led by drinking and the pursuit of prostitutes. while the drunken suicide is plastered against the floor. The dog like figures. the figure of the prostitute is bold and accepting. in this painting Grosz presents a warning. Grosz has decided to give us a didactic image. human aggression as witnessed in the times of Beckmann. the animal instincts. his corpse well degenerated already. only hell could be as brightly red. There is a small church in the background. the prostitute is cold and the man next to her holds an empty smirk as accompaniment. This is for me a symbol of the Super-ego. Dix and Grosz can be viewed as a regression to a more basic state. that unless we decide to listen to our little church of the mind. beseeching the general populace. and they are connected here to the dead figure sprawled on the curb. there is no sympathy. The visual lesson is clear. we are to duly come un-stuck. pissed on and stepped over as the night brings an ever more desperate flow of lost people.
This of course happens on mass as it does in the individual.23 Once grouped together. It is as though the coming together has provided a permit for the exhibition of parts of the subconscious. Groups may be formed automatically based as they are on a shared illusion. but in more civilized times. the easier it is for certain individuals to form one psychological whole. For a time at least. Freud is able to note that: The 23 group is overly excitable. and they are thus capable of grossness and atrocities not before present in their conscious life. Freud. Madrid: Alianza Editorial. pp. we unleash the full energies of Thanatos. The individual loses the power to maintain their critical awareness of the matter at hand.ever present. ever repressed. impulsive. it quickly dissolves again once the individual has restored his usual thought patterns. They are infected by the group ethos. humans are quite capable of allowing all kinds of emotions to sweep through them unchecked by the ego or super-ego. and thus all the easier it becomes to observe manifestations of one common collective soul. (2008) Psicología de las masas. Freud has also paid some attention to mass dynamics and the affirmation of subconscious elements. S. acting as one. What if that illusion was destruction itself? Humans acting together in groups very quickly form a kind of shared soul. Más allá del principio del placer. But this state only lasts as long as the group is in place. Following MacDougal.21 23 . Freud says: The more energetic is this mental homogeneity. we allow the repressed Id to control our processes.
A family is visited in the night by a bunch of murderers and rapists who have descended on this bourgeois attic idyll. it is 24 Ibid. once inside the mind of the group. lacking in consequence and indecisive. regression to a more primitive state ensues. as another breaks his arm. and it is almost as if the whole scene springs forward from the great round speaker.passionate. whilst being extraordinarily easy to convince. unconscious. On the ground is a gramophone. the night of the soul. the woman’s clothes are torn. Another is about to throw the child through the window. as he is dressed in a very middle class regular way. and it is clear that they have completely lost their minds to the frenzy of group violence. They come in a gang. he comes though barefoot. and his head bandage hints at war damage. versatile. What is interesting is the inclusion of the man on top of the table. his pipe hangs from his mouth.24 In short. as a beast. with tie and waste-coat. could experience of the horrors of war have turned this man to violence? Here. The father is hung from the rafters by one. they become free to roam the darker parts of existence. while remaining easy to mobilize and encourage. only able to assimilate the most basic of arguments and conclusions. pp. everybody it seems is capable of atrocity. whilst moving within a group the human sheds all responsibility. superficial in their judgments. In Max Beckmann’s aptly titled The Night (Fig 12).23 24 . the most imperfect ideas. her hands tied as she is clearly about to be raped. we see such group dynamics at work. her legs split.
subconsciously perhaps. and “this is what we are capable of!” Fig 12 25 . The shrillness of the scene makes us think of the immediacy of sound. Both Grosz and Beckmann have. “this is the music of life”.unthinkable that Beckmann would have left it there without good reason. it is as though Beckmann is saying. The gramophone also appears in Fig 10. where a serial killer is washing up his utensils after butchering a young victim. as does the screaming dog which howls in the bottom left of the painting. Rising from the mouth of this gramophone is the most horrible of scenes. to the law of Eros and Thanatos. Music is closer to our basic nature. the impulse for such violence comes from within. to the raw building material that is humanity in all its capabilities. alluded to the fact that music is the most immediate of arts and is able to drop into our subconscious mind with the upmost of ease.
The Night (1918/19) Oil on Canvass. which permeates the work of Beckmann. Germany. springs forth from their time. The effects of World War I left all three painters deeply emotionally scarred. Dix and Grosz. In the words of Grosz. who himself attempted suicide the year of his 26 . the violence. Conclusion For me. 133 x 154 cm.Max Beckmann.
25 Dix was neither a man of war nor pacifist.27 That all art is repulsion is as we have seen part of the psychological process of sublimation. E. Ibid. and war to me was never anything but horror. which is behind all of the work. when the front advanced. and I knew that many great and wise people felt the same way about it. that which is held in the shadows of our being. For him the war represented a unique opportunity to observe humanity. faces and dreams of my times. the dreams and faces of men. one shits ones pants. but he admits: I felt fear. Karcher. a war in which I served as an infantryman. 25 26 27 George Grosz.26 Of his war paintings Dix would say: I have painted the war only to dam it. That he paints the dreams of men is telling. that which we need to expel. Colonia: Taschen.discharge from the army in 1916: What can I say about the First World War. mutilation and senseless destruction. a war I hated at the start and to which I never warmed as it proceeded? I had grown up in a humanist atmosphere. (1992) Dix. pp. as it is this shared subconscious. it is the removal of that which causes discomfort. like the young man I was. and in this hell of fire and artillery. (1955) Autobiography of George Grosz . 27 . I have also painted dreams and faces.30. to discharge harmlessly into art. all of art is repulsion.
yet we can see that Beckmann. Colonia: Taschen. although I have seen terrible things and have died several deaths in sympathy. the calling is a social duty. In the words of Beckmann: I have to do it. painting devours me. Dix and Grosz have sought to find a way to sublimate these drives both inside themselves and inside their society. I’ve never been so conscious of its contradictions…My will to live is stronger than ever. we read in a letter from the front: My life here is so savage and strange. The more one dies. 29 30 Ibid Ibid 28 . and one which of necessity calls upon the subconscious. Beckmann noting: In real life.29 We have seen then that the collective mind is one that finds it easier to allow atrocities. I can live only in dreams. (1995) Beckmann. the more intensively one lives. then it will be a pleasure to be rid of this dammed torture. Their art is one giant act of sublimation.It is of course all turning on the power of Eros and Thanatos. R.30 28 Spieler. poor wretch that I am. Every living form and shape must be squeezed out of my head.28 Painting becomes for all three a way to cope with the disasters of war. by which it might serve to alleviate not only the suffering of their own impulsiveness towards death and destruction but that of their country. as Beckmann was only too aware.27. pp.
México. (1996) Introducción al psicoanálisis del arte. Let us leave it here with the words of Grosz: Whenever I had a moment to spare I would vent my spleen in sketches of everything about me that I hated. Madrid: Alianza Editorial Gedo. México D. badly mutilated war cripples. Madrid: Akal. Buenos Aires: Era Naciente. The psychology or art. S.: Plaza y Valdés/Universidad Iberoamericana. D. love. To get rid of these images there was only one way these artists knew how. F. S. (1955) Autobiography of George Grosz .As Freud notes. Barcelona: Barral Editores. (1996) The artist and the emotional world. literature. Creativity and personality. J. Freud. De Tavira. (1905) El chiste y su relación con lo inconsciente.: Fondo de Cultura Económica.F. the brutal faces of my comrades. George (1955) Autobiography of George Grosz . lascivious nurses. London: Penguin Books Freud. 31 George Grosz. and religion. Karcher. 29 . y Zárate. from the shadows of our minds. Kuspit. (2008) Psicología de las masas. Schneider. Más allá del principio del placer. arrogant officers. (1899) Interpreting Dreams. New York: Columbia University Press Gombrich. (2003) Signos de Psique en el arte moderno y posmoderno. (1995) Freud para principiantes. (1971) Freud y la psicología del arte. Freud.31 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------BIBLIOGRAFÍA Appignanesi. D. Colonia: Taschen.F. this torture comes from within. E. O. E. (2009) On creativity and the unconscious. (1992) Dix. D. S. Buenos Aires: Aguilar Freud. (1974) El psicoanalista y el artista. S. R. Grosz. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought Edition.
(1973) Freud y el Psicoanálisis. New York: Icon Editions. Spieler. Zurich: Thomas Ammann Fine Art Museum. R. (1992) Max Beckmann. D. Thomas Ammann Fine Art Exhibition. L. (1993) Art and Psychoanalysis. Barcelona: Salvat Editores. D.F. Vigotsky. Colonia: Taschen Sprengel Museum (1999) Max Beckmann. Varios (1979) Historia del Arte (tomo11).: Fontamara. 30 . Hannover: Druckgraphik Prints. Tartar. México. (2005) Psicología del arte. México. Maria. L.: Salvat Editores.Schneider. (1995) Beckmann.F. (1995) Lustmorde: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany. Princeton. USA. Varios.
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