|Self- Portrait as a Soldier, 1914|
Dix was born in Untermhaus, Germany, in 1891. From 1906-1910, he apprenticed with painter Carl Senff. In 1910, he entered the Dresden School of Arts and Crafts. In 1914, when World War One began, he, like many other German youths, enthusiastically joined the Army. Dix served in an Artillery unit on the Western front. In 1915, he was awarded the Iron Cross (second class) and was promoted to Sergeant for his heroism during the Autumn Battle. Over the next few years, Dix fought in numerous battles, including the Battle of the Somme. Needless to say, he experienced the horrors of war first-hand. Dix witnessed traumatic scenes of soldiers being killed and wounded all around him. Like many other German artists who served in the war (Max Beckmann, George Grosz, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner), Dix was greatly affected by what he saw. As a result, by the end of the war, he had become a pacifists, a dramatic change from the nationalistic war supporter he was at the beginning of the war (featured in the Self-Portrait above).