Goetze, Otto (1868-1931)

Goetze, Otto (1868-1931)

The etchings of German artist Otto Goetze are executed with a skilled and graceful style indicative of the artist’s oeuvre. Goetze would be a key part of the artistic life of Berlin during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, contributing his etchings, paintings, and also written work.

Goetze’s artistic career began in his hometown of Leipzig, at the Academy of Fine Arts. He would then progress to the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, one of the oldest and most esteemed in the country. Here, he would receive tutelage from noted artist Alexander von Liezen-Mayer (1839-1898).

Goetze would stick to this more classically aligned painterly path in his early career. Once he had graduated from his studies, he worked as a portrait painter, eventually moving to the German capital of Berlin to pursue more clients and business. However, in the early 20th century he would turn his attention towards etching as his main form of artistic output.

Etching originated in Germany in the 16th century. Through the painstaking process of scoring lines onto a metal plate to build up an image, artists would then use ink to transfer the image onto paper. During the 19th century, etching had primarily been used to reproduce prominent works of art for mass distribution, following the boom of mass printing and production. However, among artists there was an appreciation of the craft as a singular, unique process through which to create original works of art. Indeed, during Goetze’s time, etching was undergoing a ‘revival’ across other parts of Europe.

Goetze certainly seems to be a kindred spirit to these other artists. His etchings have a singularity of style and precision. Every cut made into the metal, every intention in building up an image, can be seen in his works. This adds a certain authenticity, as well as demonstrating his skill, for not a line looks out of place. Significantly, Goetze chose to depict predominantly elegant female figures. Any mistakes in the rendering of their often-times nude bodies would surely undermine their beauty. It is a testament to his skill that all appear gracefully shaped from slick lines and the sweeping gestures of his tools.

There is also a sense of spiritedness in his etchings which seems very evocative of the ever-changing times at the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century. Women gaze with coy, knowing expressions, or are engaged in leisure activities. Writing letters, resting in nude repose, or admiring their own beauty. Whilst there is a sense of fun to these images, there is also a reflective quality, perhaps representing the many social and political changes underway in the early 20th century. There are certainly levels to Goetze’s work.

Goetze exhibited successfully in Germany, including at The International Exhibition for the Book Trade and Graphic Design in 1914, for which he was awarded the Saxon State Prize. He was also a member of the Reich Association of Fine Artists in Germany, which supported professional artists.

Goetze would also contribute to a number of publications with a focus on art and culture, including ‘Youth – Munich Illustrated Weekly for Art and Life’ and ‘Society: Munich half-monthly journal for art and culture.’ Letters exist between him and the editor of the latter publication, Michael Georg Conrad. It appears that to this publication, Goetze contributed poems and written word articles, indicating a potential penchant for writing.

There are also surviving letters between Goetze and fellow painter Richard Grimm-Sachsenberg (1873-1952), as well as artist and author Max Dautheney (1867-1918). There appears to be a picture building of a man much involved in the artistic and cultural circles of Berlin during the early 20th century.

Goetze’s etchings were only the beginning of his artistic endeavours. Ink could form art and words to be printed. The array of talents he turned his mind to is impressive, and he is a fascinating example of an artistic spirit in Germany as the 19th century turned into the 20th century.


Born in Leipzig, Germany.


Studied at the Leipzig Academy of Fine Arts.


Studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.


Moved to Berlin, Germany.


Exhibited at The International Exhibition for the Book Trade and Graphic Design.


Died in Berlin, Germany.

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