Alfred Hrdlicka's monumental series Wie ein Totentanz is a reflection on German history, on the ascent and fall of Nazi Germany, from it's earliest roots in militarist Prussia to the exile of Nazi functionaries in South America. At the heart of the series however stands the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20. Juli 1944; from the moment it was was planned and carried out by the officers Henning von Tresckow, Claus von Stauffenberg and others, to the trial, conviction and execution of the members of the plot. In its laconic tone and technical scope, ranging from quick, sketch-like line etchings to elaborate, dark, brooding aquatints, Hrdlicka's Wie ein Totentanz stands in the tradition of another great and shocking Danse macabre of the 20th century, Otto Dix' Krieg (see lot 228). In a now legendary exhibition, the two series were shown together at the Utrecht Museum Hedendaagste Kunst in 1982-83.
At the suggestion of Alfred Hoh, the present portfolio was exhibited in Nuremberg at the historically charged Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände in 2004, the only exhibition in Germany to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Stauffenberg plot. It was also possibly the only exhibition of prints ever to be covered on German television (ARD Tagesthemen, 20 July 2004).