The 2016 German 20 Euro silver commemorative coin honoring the 125th birthday of Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix celebrates an artist who had an illustrious career spanning the first seven decades of the 20th century. Dix was known for his striking, often controversial, art and illustrations laden with graphic war symbolism and gritty scenes criticizing the Weimar Republic, the era of German rule that occurred following World War I between the years 1919 and 1933. Dix went on to become noted as one of the most significant players in the Neue Sachlichkeit, or “New Objectivity”, movement of the 1920s.
Dix was born on December 2, 1891 in Untermhaus, a town in the former German Empire now incorporated as Gera, Germany. He grew up in an artistic family and served an apprenticeship with painter Carl Senff from 1906 through 1910. Following his time at Kunstgewerbeschule (Academy of the Applied Arts) in Dresden, Dix volunteered for the German Army. His exposure to the brutality of war would color his art for the rest of his career. Dix returned to painting after World War I, mastering complex expressionist paintings that utilize different mediums, including layers of thin oil glazes atop tempera paint.
Much of Dix’s works clearly convey the intense emotions behind his wartime experiences. These pieces include his 1920 painting The War Cripples, which depicts four disfigured war veterans, and The Trench, a 1923 painting littered with the dismembered and decomposing bodies of deceased soldiers.
The Nazi regime was unkind to Dix and his works, regarding him as a depraved individual; some of his paintings were burned. The Nazis required him and all other German artists to join the Reich Chamber of Fine Art, and Dix was only allowed to create innocuous landscape paintings. However, some of his work was considered allegorical criticisms of the Nazis, and he was arrested on charges of plotting against Hitler.
He was captured by the French during World War II and released in 1946. He later returned to Dresden, where he remained until 1966. Dix earned recognition for his artistic achievements in both West and East Germany, winning an array of awards including the Grand Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Lichtwark Prize and the National Prize of the German Democratic Republic.
Dix, who once said, “I’ll either be famous or infamous,” died of a stroke on July 25, 1969 as an internationally-renowned artist.
The obverse of the Otto Dix 20 Euro Silver German Coin was designed by coin depicts a stylized Bundesadler, or Federal Eagle. Arcing along the top half of the rim are the words BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND, or Federal Republic of Germany. Six stars flank the left and rights sides of the eagle along the rim, collectively representing the 12 stars of the European Union.
Toward the bottom of the eagle between its tail and claw is the coin’s date, 2016, and on the right near the claw is the “G” mintmark indicating the Karlsruhe/Baden-Württemberg branch of the German State Mint. In three lines of horizontal text directly below the eagle are the phrases SILBER 925, which indicate the coin’s 92.5 percent silver content, and the denomination of 20 EURO.
The coin’s obverse and reverse were designed by noted German sculptor and medalist Friedrich Brenner of Dierdorf. His numismatic works include a 2009 German 2 Euro commemorative coin depicting the Ludwigskirche church in Old Saarbrucken and a 2014 German 100 Euro gold coin honoring the UNESCO-designated Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
The reverse design pays homage to Dix with a collage of subjects from his works. In the foreground is a flirtatious dancing couple as seen in Dix’s 1922 work Modern Dancers. Dominating the left side of the reverse is a scene from another of his 1922 works – his so-called Self Portrait with Cigarette. This left-facing side view profile of Dix shows him at approximately 31 years of age. In the image, the painter strikes a dreadful facial expression, with furled brows and a lit cigarette tipped despicably upward from his frowning mouth.
This downcast self-portrait seemingly portrays the artist’s sentiments about the Great War and the Weimar political regime, which the painter gloomily symbolized in many of his works. The words 125 GEBURTSTAG OTTO DIX, translated to English as 125th Anniversary Otto Dix, trace along the bottom half of the rim.
Incuse edge lettering includes the phrase DU MUSST ALLES SELBER SEIN! (English Translation: YOU MUST ALL BE YOURSELF!)
|Year Of Issue:||2016|
|Mint Mark:||G (Karlsruhe/Baden-Württemberg)|
|Mintage:||170,000 (incl. Uncirculated & Proof)|
|Alloy:||92.5% Silver, 7.5% Copper|
|Edge:||Incuse Inscribed (DU MUSST ALLES SELBER SEIN!)|
|OBV Designer||Friedrich Brenner|
|REV Designer||Friedrich Brenner|
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