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Karl Xaver

He was born on June 28, 1875 in Augsburg. He studied there with Johannes Dominal and later perfected his skills as a sculptor and medalist in Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin and Düsseldorf until 1897. There were also two years of life in Holland, five years in France (Paris), after which he settled in Munich, where he died on September 8, 1950. Götz was a member of the Munich Artists' Association and the Numismatic Union. During the 40 years of his creativity Götz created a total of 633 medals, some of which were produced in large editions. In the early period of creativity, in the pre-war years, while in Paris, he worked in the style of the French "New Art" (Art Nouveau), created above all portraits of representatives of the bourgeoisie: doctors, industrialists, clergy. From an artistic point of view, these medals are considered the most valuable, although at present they are less well-known than his later works of propaganda content. During World War I Götz devoted himself mainly to the subject of war propaganda. From 1913 to 1923 he created a series of 82 medals, known today as "satirical medals" and representing the most famous part of his work. They made Goetz one of the most distinguished medallists of all time. The style of these medals is what is commonly referred to as expressionism. Götz explicitly used them as a political message, as a means of communicating his political views. The range of subject matter ranges from outright glorification of German successes to mockery. Some of his works are decidedly racist. One of his medals, entitled Black Shame (1920), shows a woman tied to a huge phallus, on the other side of which is a caricature of the head of an African soldier. With this work the medallist spoke out against the use of African formations of French troops during the occupation of the Rhineland region of Germany. Götz's most famous work is the medal of the sinking of the Lusitania, a ship sunk by a German submarine on May 7, 1915. In doing so, Goetz mistakenly marked the date of the torpedoing as May 5, 1915. Initially the making of the medal was purely a personal initiative for him. It did not appear until 1916 and was produced in an edition of only a few hundred copies. However, when one of the medals ended up in the British Foreign Office and its photo appeared in the New York Times, it generated a lot of interest, after which the British government decided to use it for a counter-propaganda purpose. The mistaken date on the medal for the shipwreck, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,200 people, was to be used as proof of a pre-planned attack. Over 300,000 copies were produced. What makes them recognizable is the indication of the month, executed in English spelling: "May". A version of the medal with a corrected date was then issued in Germany. "Lusitania" is part of the exhibitions of many museums around the world, such as the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum or the Australian War Memorial. Other famous works by Goetz in the "satirical series" include, for example, the "Trap" ("Mousetrap") medal, dedicated to Woodrow Wilson's 14-point program, or the racist "Black Shame" medal. After Germany's defeat in World War I, Goetz also turned to critical motifs in his art. The satirical medal of 1919, for example, shows Wilhelm II. on the obverse and a disabled war veteran with a grieving woman and a weeping child on the reverse. The images are accompanied by an inscription containing Wilhelm's words, located divided on both sides of the medal: "I lead you (obverse) towards splendid times (reverse). During the Weimar Republic, Goetz also created a medal that shows Hitler's putsch in an unfavorable, satirical light. The Putschists are depicted as dancing dwarfs with a swastika flag, helplessly handing it over to the Social Democrats. In later works there is no longer any criticism of the National Socialists. Götz abandoned expressionism in order to adapt to the demands of National Socialist art and created in a neoclassical style. He designed many medals with the figures of Adolf Hitler, Paul von Hindenburg, Franz von Papen, famous soldiers like Manfred von Richthofen, as well as memorial medals marking important events during the Second World War, like the airborne invasion of Crete. Gunther W. Kienast in his book about the medalist "Karl Goetz Medals" writes: "With his astute eye for the events and his talent as a satirist, Goetz carves his point of view into his medals, carefully depicting all the details. But, as is the case after most wars, all these heroic deeds are soon archived and forgotten, becoming mere research material for historians, while the medals themselves continue to attract the interest of collectors and museum curators."
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