The Avant-Gardist Haircut of Martha Dix

Quite by accident, as is usually the case, I ran across a portrait Otto Dix painted of “Mrs. Martha Dix (1928).” Above you’ll see the two of them, as photographed by August Sander. The haircut in this magnificent photograph is, however, but a pale reflection of Otto Dix’s representation of his wife’s hair.

I recognize, in the collages displayed below, that I have not done Mrs. Dix’s hair justice. All I can say in my defense is that I have only begun to mine the potency of Martha Dix’s hair.

Above, the hair is paired with a Cuno Amiet still life (1907); below, with evil eye fabric by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, for which, with apologies, I can no longer find a link.

To accompany any explorations you might do of Martha Dix’s hair, here is Ravel’s Sonatine (1903-5).

6 thoughts on “The Avant-Gardist Haircut of Martha Dix

  1. shoreacres

    Looking at the original painting, my first impulse was to say, “Young lady! Stand up straight!” I thought the Evil Eye fabric was perfect, too, since her portrait also evoked Cleopatra, and all things Egyptian-mysterious.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      The angle of her head is indeed curious. I wondered, on looking at it, what Otto Dix wished to express about Martha. I read somewhere–and of course can’t find it now–that he made almost as many paintings of her as he made of himself. As for the Cleopatra “look,” yes, I actually thought that also, though it wasn’t the plan. What I am realizing about this “phase” of my cut and paste efforts, actually, is that it’s very reminiscent of dressing up paper dolls as a child.

  2. larrymuffin

    This is very interesting in 2014 in Ottawa at the Canadian war Museum. There was an exhibition of paintings by Otto Dix they were paintings of his time in the army, and in the battlefield it was very interesting, because they were juxtaposed to those of a Canadian painter also a soldier and who painted the Canadian army in action. The two men later in life both painters knew of each other’s work, unfortunately they never met.
    Later I learned that the son of Otto Dix came to live in Ottawa for quite a few years and worked at the national Gallery in Ottawa. Only returning to Germany upon the death of his father. Upon his departure, he gave a painting by his father to the gallery.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Hi, Laurent. Thank you so much for this. I would have loved to see that exhibit. The last time we went to Montreal (a year or so before the pandemic hit), we were struck by all the wonderful art by Canadian painters new to us. I’m curious to know who the painter was with whom Dix’s work was paired, so if you happen to see my comment here, I hope you’ll give me the artist’s name.

      1. larrymuffin

        The artist was A. Y.Jackson 1882-1974.
        Both he and otto Dix knew of each other’s work and admired each other’s work, but they never actually met unfortunately.

  3. Susan Scheid Post author

    Laurent: Thanks so much for the additional information. I love the work by Jackson I have seen online, but wasn’t really aware of his war paintings. I have now found a few of those online, too. How wonderful it must have been to see that exhibit.

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