“Hardly anybody nowadays will deny 
that Heartfield was a great artist - although 
I think there are only a few who could say why. 
That has always been a very difficult question. 
Seen from a distance, 
Heartfield was a simple person; at close range, 
a complicated person - or better still - a person 
with an immense span. He was a wise man and 
a child. An awful, hairsplitting pedant and a very 
successful artist. He was someone who loved 
and someone who hated. […] The world and 
our lives seem very complicated. Heartfield 
made them transparent."
Werner Klemke, 1968
Werner Klemke, 1968

From 1957 to 1968, life in the GDR was easier for John Heartfield. However, years of Stasi persecution and government neglect had taken their toll. He was never again as prolific as he was during the war years.

He did remained a vital outspoken intelligent man of the people.

He was able to travel outside the GDR on “temporary visas.” This allowed him to spend time with his family.

NOTE: See <Questions About John Heartfield From Visitors And Scholars> for John J Heartfield’s memories of his vacations with his famous grandfather.

In 1968, Heartfield was scheduled to attend an exhibition in Czechoslovakia on a temporary visa. The morning he left the GDR, Jonny dictated and signed a short will, leaving everything to his third wife, Gertrud. There was no mention of his children, Tom George Heartfield or Eva Sondermeijer. There was also no mention of Jonny’s beloved brother, Wieland Herzfelde. Wieland can reasonably be considered to be responsible for Heartfield’s entire career.

Tom Heartfield had supported Jonny both financially and emotionally throughout his life. In letter, Gertrud later apologized that because of “the state,” Tom could not be mentioned in the will.

Shortly after signing this will, John Heartfield passed away in April of 1968 in East Berlin. He is buried near the home of Bertolt Brecht.

The Chronology section will always grow. Please check the Exhibition's Networking Sites such as - Facebook, Twitter, Exhibition Blog - for updates.

1957: From Leipzig To Berlin
1958-1959: ein Künstler des Volkes
1960-1961: Professor John Heartfield
1962: Wieland Herzfelde Monograph
1964-1965: Exhibitons
1968: John Heartfield Dies In East Berlin

NOTE: Visitors are encouraged to write to the curator with suggestions for additions or modifications to the Chronology.

Write To John Heartfield

John Heartfield’s grandson, John J Heartfield, is the curator of the Official John Heartfield Exhibition and Archive.

Curated By Heartfield's Grandson, John J Heartfield