After John Heartfield passed away in 1968, his possessions and almost all his surviving art became the property of the Heartfield Archiv, East German Akademie Der Künste (Heartfield Archive, East German Academy of Art). My grandfather’s art remains inside the Heartfield Archiv, conserved and hidden away from the outside world as if his montages, sketches, designs, theatrical models, and sets were relics rather than living relevant masterpieces of political, Dada, and theatrical art. My grandfather literally risked his life repeatedly to deliver this art to as wide an audience as possible.
In 2014, Dr. Walter Trautwein, Direktor des Archivs, Akademie der Künste, categorically refused my request for photographs of my grandfather’s art.
Major museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), The Museum Of Modern Art (NYC), and The Getty Museum (Los Angeles), and The Tate Modern, London have always wanted to prominently display John Heartfield’s original art. Currently, the only piece of art displayed in MOMA that has anything to do with John Heartfield is George Grosz’s The Engineer Heartfield.
After years of fruitless requests to the John Heartfield Archiv, Akademie Der Künste in Germany, I decided it was necessary to devote the vast majority of my professional life to making John Heartfield’s art and life story available to the world via the Internet. I appreciated the many websites that mentioned my grandfather’s art. However, no website came even close to displaying even a small portion of his influential artistic legacy. Most didn’t touch upon his groundbreaking work with typography, graphic design, and theatrical design
My grandfather would have loved the World Wide Web. It has been widely documented that John Heartfield’s goal was to have his art reproduced and distributed in as many popular mediums as possible.
In 2009, I began to design and program the original John Heartfield, Dada Photomonteur: Official Internet Archive. It was a labor of love. My wife, Michelle, and I provided all the funding. I had to use all the skills I had acquired during my long career as a professor, programmer, designer, and consultant in digital media.
I decided not to accept funding from outside sources because I wanted to be able to present my grandfather’s work in the manner I knew he would have wanted. He taught me that, as much as possible, artistic choices should be made independently.
However, I didn’t have the resources to completely display my grandfather’s work and the work of other courageous progressive artist. I needed support from exhibition visitors. They let me know they wanted to own posters and other items featuring his art.
You can also donate any amount to help the exhibition grow into an Online Museum For Progressive Art.
I continue to expand The John Heartfield Exhibition & Archive. In addition to his artwork, I’ll share more never-before-published material from The John J Heartfield Collection, my personal collection of John Heartfield ephemera and art.
Many thanks for the invaluable positive feedback the exhibition has received from visitors and art scholars.
Soon, if you help, I’ll expand John Heartfield Exhibition to be an Online Museum Of Progressive Art, A Museum Against Ignorance.
I know my grandfather would love that vision. He taught me that bigotry and violence grow are the result of ignorance. As you view his art, you’ll realize how relevant it remains in today’s politics.
John J Heartfield
The curator wishes to express his appreciation to Rutgers University’s Erik Thuno of the Department of Art History for his assistance in providing interns to assist with the Exhibition.
Intern Vasiliki (Vicki) Maragoudakis deserves a special note of appreciation for her dependable, cheerful, and extremely valuable assistance scanning, organizing, and transcribing material.
Intern Samira Paydar was most helpful researching and reporting on material on the web.