ROUGE CABARET THE TERRIFYING AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD OF OTTO DIX A North‐American Premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Montreal, September 21, 2010 – From September 24, 2010, to January 2, 2011, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents ROUGE CABARET: The Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix, the first North American exhibition devoted to Otto Dix (1891‐1969), one of the twentieth century’s most important German painters. A keen observer of the world, which he viewed as “terrifying and beautiful,” Otto Dix leaves no one indifferent. Some 220 works, including about forty rare and fragile paintings, many of them painted in tempera on wood panels, large watercolours and powerful prints, illustrate his acerbic yet moving vision of the eventful era in which he lived, from World War I to World War II, from the Germany of the Weimar Republic to the rise of the Third Reich. Several complete series of prints will also be on display, including the outstanding “War” series (1924). “This is the first North American exhibition of this scope devoted to Otto Dix,” said Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, “and the fact that it is being presented in Montreal is highly significant. One of Dix’s paintings, Portrait of the Lawyer Hugo Simons, eloquently recounts the destinies of two men – the painter and his model – who lived through a twentieth‐century tragedy. But it is also the story of a city’s battle to conserve this highly symbolic work. Never in Canada has a work of art sparked such a concerted and collective effort to preserve our heritage.” Following World War I, Germany experienced a burgeoning of artistic creativity unequalled in Europe. The Roaring Twenties, a time of joyful and unbridled revelry, was also marked by violence, poverty and decadence generated by a disastrous political and economic situation, which Otto Dix observed with an unflinching eye. His depictions of battlefield scenes illustrating the horrors of war, dejected veterans reduced to begging, the moral misery of prostitutes, the myriad victims of a social order that had lost its bearings, and compelling portraits of anonymous figures, bohemians and intellectuals were all conveyed in a brutal realism that is as disturbing as it is fascinating. BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES Born in 1891 in Untermhaus, near Gera, Germany, to a family of modest means, Otto Dix studied painting at the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Dresden. Enlisting in the army as a volunteer, he was profoundly affected by the World War I. He quickly acquired a scandalous reputation, disassociated himself from Expressionism and briefly joined the nihilist Dada movement. Along with George Grosz, he became a central figure in the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit), a major art movement that took a realistic and often scathing look at a society in the grip of a deep malaise and pessimism between the two World Wars: “We wanted to see things naked, to see them clearly – almost without art,” Dix explained. In both his technique and his style, he draws on the tradition of the German Renaissance, and his work depicts the most mundane and the crudest aspects of urban life in minute detail. Sought after as a portrait painter between the two World Wars, he captured the leading intellectuals and bohemians of the time. In 1933, with Hitler’s rise to power, Dix was immediately deemed a “degenerate” artist by the Nazi regime. His works were ridiculed, held up as negative examples, removed from German museums, confiscated, sold off and in many cases destroyed, which explains why they are so rare today. Forced to quit his teaching position at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Dix embarked on his “interior emigration.” He moved his family to the countryside close to the Swiss border, near Lake Constance, where he devoted himself to landscape painting. Conscripted in 1944 and taken prisoner in France, he was rehabilitated in his final years and is considered today as a major painter of the twentieth century. He died in 1969. The Montreal presentation of this exhibition, organized in partnership with the Neue Galerie New York, includes extensive educational content presented alongside the exceptional selection of works by Dix from private and public collections in Europe and North America. Photographs, excerpts from documents and films by G. W. Pabst, Fritz Lang, Robert Wiene, Paul Leni, Walter Ruttmann, Phil Jutzi and F. W. Murnau, along with archival materials, form a moving testimonial to the tumultuous interwar period, relating the excesses and anguish of this society exposed and captured in Dix’s work. It also pays tribute to the extraordinary collective effort to keep the compelling Portrait of the Lawyer Hugo Simons in Montreal, at the Museum of Fine Arts. The acquisition of this painting in 1993 attracted attention well beyond our borders. Visitors will be treated to a preview of Jennifer Alleyn’s new film, Dix fois Dix (set for release in 2011), with an excerpt shot in Hemmenofen, Germany, in the Otto Dix house‐museum, which opened to the public in 2010. THE EXHIBITION LAYOUT The exhibition is divided into six themes, arranged chronologically and thematically, from World War I to World War II. 1 – The Trenches “I studied war closely. It must be represented realistically, so that it is understood. The artist works so that others can see that such a thing existed.” 2 – The Street “There is so much that is strange in what surrounds us that there is no reason to use or seek out new subjects.” 3 – The Brothel “We wanted to see things naked, to see them clearly – almost without art.” “…stop bothering me with your pathetic politics – I’d rather go to the whorehouse.” 4 – The Gallery “When I say to someone, I would like to paint you, then I already have the picture inside me. If someone doesn’t interest me, I don’t paint him either.” 5 – The Exhibition “That was my ideal to paint like the masters of the early Renaissance” 6 – The Lake “I painted landscapes – That was emigration.” “I was condemned to the landscape… I stood in front of the landscape like a cow” CURATORS The exhibition ROUGE CABARET: The Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix’s guest curator is Olaf Peters, an Otto Dix specialist and professor of the history of modern art at Martin Luther University in Halle‐Wittenberg, Germany. The Montreal presentation was developed by Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with assistance from Anne Grace, Curator of Modern Art. The exhibition was designed by scenic director Stéphane Roy and designer Bruno Braën. INTERNATIONAL LOANS The exhibition in Montreal features works on loan from major international museums, including the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart, the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium, the Otto Dix Foundation (Vaduz), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMaster University Museum of Art. Works from numerous private collections, including those belonging to Ronald S. Lauder, president and co‐founder of the Neue Galerie New York, and the estate of Serge Sabarsky, its co‐founder, have also been generously lent for the exhibition. THE CATALOGUE Under the direction of Olaf Peters, a lavishly illustrated reference work of more than 250 pages has been published in English by the Neue Galerie and Prestel and in French by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Never‐ before‐published texts in French and English by Ernst Kállai and Willi Wolfradt, both contemporaries of Otto Dix, are included in the catalogue. SCENOGRAPHY Film excerpts, press clippings and archival documents plunge visitors into the interwar period. This contextualization of Dix’s work is designed to help visitors grasp exactly what it was that Dix, who was haunted by the War and its repercussions, wanted to denounce. The exhibition design was created by Montreal‐based scenic designer Stéphane Roy and interior designer Bruno Braën. Roy has created many decors and sets for performing companies, including Espace Go, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, La La La Human Steps and Cirque du Soleil, that have earned him several awards. And Braën has won many prizes for his designs, including those in Montreal restaurants like Le Club Chasse et Pêche, DNA and Pullman, among others. MONTREAL’S GERMAN SEASON EIGHT MONTREAL CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS JOIN FORCES Rouge Cabaret: Love, Death, the Terrifying and Beautiful World of Otto Dix and the concerts presented by the Arte Musica Foundation in association with this exhibition are part of “8 X L’Allemagne,” an event organized by eight Montreal cultural institutions that have joined forces to mark the twentieth anniversary of Germany’s reunification by each presenting a German programme. The Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, the Opéra de Montréal, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Goethe Institut, the Cinémathèque québécoise, the Grande Bibliothèque, the Arte Musica Foundation and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts have teamed up to present German artistic creations from various eras. In 2010‐2011, the public will be invited on a “cultural journey” that will reveal the many facets of German culture at these eight Montreal institutions. SPONSORS The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts thanks Astral Media for its vital support. It also thanks its partners La Presse, The Gazette, Société Radio‐Canada and Air Canada, and extends its gratitude to the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture du Québec, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec for their steadfast support. The exhibition has received generous support from the Volunteer Association of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum would like to thank the Association of Volunteer Guides of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for its invaluable contribution. The Museum is also grateful to all its VIPs and the many corporations, foundations and individuals who support its mission, especially the Arte Musica Foundation, which is presided over by Pierre Bourgie. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ International Exhibition Programme receives financial support from the Exhibition Fund of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation and the Paul G. Desmarais Fund. MEDIA CONTACTS Sabrina Merceron or Catherine Guex Public Relations 514‐285‐1600 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com 201025 A selection of visuals is available on the Museum’s website at the following address: www.mmfa.qc.ca/media Instructions to follow for reproducing works of art: The work of art is to be reproduced in its entirety without cropping, bleeding, guttering, overprinting or any other alteration of any kind, and the caption and photo credit must accompany the illustration of the work. About the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has one of the highest attendance rates among Canadian museums. Every year, its 600,000 visitors enjoy its encyclopedic collection, unique in Canada and free to all, and its original temporary exhibitions, which combine artistic disciplines (fine arts, music, film, fashion, design) and feature innovative exhibition design. The Museum designs, produces and circulates many of its exhibitions in Europe and North America. In 2009, they attracted 900,000 visitors abroad and 575,000 in Montreal. It is also one of Canada’s leading publishers of bilingual art books that are distributed worldwide. More than 100,000 families and school children take part in its educational, cultural and community programmes every year. In 2011, the Museum will be opening a fourth pavilion dedicated to Canadian and Quebec art, and a concert hall that houses a rare collection of Tiffany stained glass. At the same time, the Museum’s rich collections will be reinstalled in the three other pavilions dedicated to ancient cultures, European and contemporary art, as well as decorative arts and design. Music is now an integral part of the Museum, providing another perspective on the visual arts, through musical audioguides and other innovative activities, organized in co‐operation with the new Arte Musica Foundation. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a private, non‐profit institution that must generate nearly 50 per cent of annual operating budget and nearly 100 per cent of the funds for the acquisition of works for its collection. In 2011, the Museum will present exhibitions on China and fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.